Outside his room in Dubai, someone has come to see Vijayakumar. Just a little while earlier he had been on the phone talking to people back home in Kerala, people with some power to do something. He wants them to somehow keep the body of his wife preserved till May 17. That’s the date he has managed to get a ticket for home, not earlier. Even that has been difficult, with the many non resident Indians (NRIs) hoping to get back home during the times of COVID-19.
Geetha, Vijayakumar’s 40-year-old wife, had died unexpectedly of a cardiac arrest on May 9 in Palakkad. Her body has been preserved in the Palakkad district hospital for four days. But now the body is showing small signs of decay, says R Vijayakumar, Kollengode grama panchayat member.
“Her husband Vijayakumar has contacted Malayali associations and the Indian embassy and with the help of authorities back home, managed to get a ticket for May 17. But the doctors say that the postmortem had to be done right away, and the body could still be preserved for Vijayakumar when he finally reached her side,” says the member.
A sob escapes the bereaved husband as he tells TNM about his wife. “I don’t know what I can tell you about her. I just got a call now that they couldn’t keep the body any longer without doing the postmortem. That the colour of her body was changing,” he says in a broken voice.
He had last spoken to her on the evening of May 8 and Geetha had sounded just fine then. “She had no illness of any sort. I spoke to her every morning and evening. When it was time to break the (Ramzan) fast here, I called her, I showed her the nombu thura (goodies to break the fast with).”
On the morning of May 9, Vijayakumar could not call Geetha. But by 10am, a call came from someone back home. Geetha had chest pain and was taken to a hospital. She later came back home, but felt unwell again and on the way back to the hospital, breathed her last.
“I have been hoping to go home with the lockdown and everything. Without imagining something like this would happen, I had registered to go back home along with other NRIs,” says Vijayakumar.
He had moved to Dubai in 1997 and is now an electrical supervisor. Geetha had been with him for a while but she later came back to Kerala to their house in Anamari in Palakkad.
Back home, Vijayakumar has his aged mother, a younger brother and his family.