30 July, 2021

Life And Death In Time of Corona: Home Alone When She Breathed Her Last

Harmesh Kohli died at her Delhi residence. It was her 80th birthday. Her family was barred to enter the cremation ground. Did she foretell death?

Photograph by Priyanka Sachar
Life And Death In Time of Corona: Home Alone When She Breathed Her Last

Harmesh Kohli passed away on the morning of April 8. It was her 80th birthday. As is normal on reaching a landmark decade, wishes had been pouring in on the family WhatsApp group from midnight onwards. But Harmesh was unwell, gravely so, and couldn’t sleep a wink the whole night. A restless malaise had grown, then tightened its grip on her gradually for the past fortnight; that night had been unusually difficult. A day earlier, the family had called up a nursing home but, with all resources directed towards fighting coronavirus, no doctor was available. A nurse heard out the symptoms, told them it could be intestinal gas, and prescribed medicines. On the night before her death, Harmesh had, with premonitory lucidity, told her daughter how to deal with her belongings.

“She was 20 years elder, almost like a mother to me,” says her younger sister, Kusum Sachar, who lives seven kms away, but could not see her one last time. “The regret will remain with me throughout my life,” whispers a distraught Kusum.

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