• Unnati Hirwani

The Second Wave: Saddest Stories

TW : covid related deaths


As the second wave of the coronavirus surged ahead, India witnessed one of its darkest moments since independence as dead bodies kept on piling on top of one another, reminiscent of people who were grasping for oxygen as their dying lungs gave out.

We had several people texting us and enquiring about the availability of cremation grounds and body bags, and we are just a small group of teenagers. Sadly, a myriad of other people have had much, much worse experiences.


Around 15 years ago, Ram Vikas Gupta left his family and home to travel to Mumbai where he started working as a taxi driver in hopes of bettering the living conditions of his family which still resided back in rural Uttar Pradesh.

Gupta, who lived in the starry city of India with five other roommates was forced to leave for his village in an extreme hurry as a nationwide lockdown was declared and his savings ran out.

When he returned to Mumbai in March and tried to resume his daily life of struggles, the second hit Maharashtra like a sudden thunderstorm, once again forcing him to travel back to his village.

Jobless, Gupta was frantic about repaying the 40,000 rupees he loaned. “What to do?” he said. “All my savings [are gone]. We had a very difficult time.”

A 70-year-old retired Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation driver lost both of his sons and a daughter-in-law to the pandemic, who were also the only breadwinners of the family.

With no pension, a wife afflicted with paralysis and no source of income, he is terrified about the future of his four grandkids.

While he is desperately trying to work something out by seeking much-needed assistance from the state government, he claimed that the scheme meant for such orphaned children does not cover their case.

Vinay Srivastava was a brave reporter living in Uttar Pradesh who tweeted his oxygen level, starting with "I am 65 years old. Plus I have spondylitis, due to which my oxygen has reduced to 52. Nobody at the hospital lab, or the doctor is picking the phone," in Hindi.

When a person replied to him and asked him to “have faith” in a bleak attempt to reassure him, he responded with another tweet explaining "For how long should I keep the faith? Now my oxygen level is 50, and the guard at the Balrampur hospital is not letting me enter."

Then, Srivastava’s oxygen levels came down further to 32, after which he ultimately succumbed to the virus, having received no medical care whatsoever.

His death happened on the same day when India overtook Brazil as the country with the second-largest number of (reported) covid cases.

Sayyed Munir Kamruddin, a 52-year-old gravedigger based in Mumbai couldn’t even fast in the holy month of Ramadan as the hot weather and more importantly, his job couldn’t spare him.

"My work is hard," he said. "I feel thirsty for water. I need to dig graves, cover them with mud, and carry dead bodies. With all this work, how can I fast?"

Despite this, it is his faith that allowed him to find enough power to pull continuous 24-hour shifts at the funeral site.

“Our trust in our mosque is very strong,” he said. “The government is not going to give us anything. We don’t even want anything from the government.”


SOURCES: India Today. Hindustan Times, Business Insider, Reuters