This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Abha Khetarpal. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

How My Mother And I Tested Covid-19 Positive Because Of The System’s Failure

More from Abha Khetarpal

This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

My Covid Story began with my attempt of remaining Covid free, i.e. by getting vaccinated. What an irony. While trying to get the so-called “Suraksha Kawach” (an armour/shield), I brought the infection from the overcrowded vaccination centre where the only Covid norm that was being followed was the lavish use of sanitisers.

There was no social distancing in the waiting areas, corridors and lifts. People seemed to be wearing masks only to cover their double chins or prevent their chins from getting tanned. Above all, there was no one from the hospital administration to regulate all this or discipline people.

people with disability
Representative Image.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I had a fear of getting infected. I was in the high-risk category with weak lungs due to post-polio syndrome and scoliosis (curvature in spine), which had significantly affected my respiratory function. Sitting in a wheelchair made me more vulnerable to the exhaled air by the people standing around.

And lo! After 5 days of getting my first dose, I developed the symptoms. And then started a series of challenges.

The first one was a delay in getting tested. I was dependent on home collection for the RT-PCR test, for which I had to vigorously explore the internet for a lab that could get my tests done, as home collection for RT-PCR had been stopped by most labs. Eventually, one lab sent their technician to collect the samples and I was declared positive after 36 hours!

I have been listening to the regular announcements of our Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, since 2020 to remain in home quarantine and how patients would be given expert advice on medicines, oxy-meters and other support by the state’s health department. With a rising temperature and other symptoms, I tried every helpline number given on their website, but no one bothered to respond. The whole system seemed to have collapsed.

Suggested by my uncle, I started my treatment with the standard Covid treatment package of some antibiotics, vitamin supplements, paracetamol, etc. For 8 days I had a 102-degree temperature.

And then came a twist in the plot. My Covid story didn’t remain mine only. As I always say, my umbilical cord is yet to be cut. My 75-year-old mother, who is my major caregiver, got infected by me. How could she leave me isolated as I needed support for every activity?

Before I could get completely well, she developed the symptoms. And again, there started another round of struggles. Now my focus completely shifted to her medicines, oxygen levels, nebulisation and treatment.

covid feLittle girl wearing preventive face mask looks through the window curtain at home in quarantine days for COVID-19ar
Representative Image.

I don’t want to be a hypocrite and say that I faced the situation bravely. Never in my life have I been so fearful. I was scared of dying. There was a multitude of emotions. There was uncertainty about what if one of us had to be hospitalised. There were apprehensions.

What if our medicines got out of stock with the neighbourhood chemist? What would I do if my mother’s condition deteriorated in the middle of the night? Who would come to us?

I had the guilt of passing the infection to my mother. We all know that negative emotional states, loneliness and fear bring about a cascade of split-second changes in the body. One day, I was so weak that I remember it took me 30 minutes to shift from my wheelchair to my bed. My left leg refused to move a bit. It seemed that all the strength and energy had been squeezed out of me.

It was a situation of crisis. Intense anxiety gripped me and the fight-or-flight was activated. As obvious, there was no option of flight; the spontaneous instinct was to fight. My mother and I started this fight as a team.

With determination and a positive attitude, I could plan everything. I am not trying to be boastful here, but I pat my back for my managerial skills and resilience. And of course, I’m grateful to my friends and relatives who helped us with food and medicines.

And today, my mother has had no fever for 3 days. My love for life, belief in the goodness of humanity and will to survive made my Covid Story a success.

But yes, I would say that I will never forgive the system where the weak, vulnerable and helpless are made to feel unwanted, uncared for, insecure and unloved.

You must be to comment.
  1. India’s second COVID-19 wave has made healthcare, ableist even pre-pandemic, harder for disabled people to access-India News , Firstpost – जनता राज-Jantaraaj

    […] it was a difficult cycle of first contracting the virus and then her mother falling ill as well. Abha shared that the experience of having COVID very hard on her emotionally as well as […]

More from Abha Khetarpal

Similar Posts

By IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

By IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

By IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below