12-old Jagan, who is from the Irular community near Gingee, lost his father during the lockdown in May 2020.
It was a nightmare for him to sit beside his dying father, who lay motionless with injuries to the head.
He was alone because his mother and grandmother had been dragged away to a government hospital to undergo tests for Covid.
That night, Jagan’s father died in front of his eyes. Neither neighbours nor relatives came forward to help the dying man and his scared son, for they were afraid of contracting Covid themselves.
Father sent back from hospital
The man had fallen off a compound wall a few days earlier, severely injuring his head. He was taken to a hospital in Chennai, but the hospital allegedly discharged him after he tested positive for Covid-19.
Following this, his wife and mother brought him back to the village, and were to take care of him that night.
But the two women were forcefully taken to the Mundiyambakkam GH by police and health department personnel for Covid tests, and Jagan was left alone with his dying father.
The two women later tested positive. Police personnel reached the village the next day, helped the 12-year-old perform his father’s last rites, and provided some dry ration and money for the family.
A ray of hope
The family received help from volunteers of the Red Cross and Irular Tribals Protection of Rights Organisation.
Jagan’s mother, a daily wage labourer, is buckling under debt as she borrowed money for her husband’s treatment.
With her husband gone, she was struggling to support the family.
The boy’s plight caught the attention of a 45-year-old volunteer, who decided to adopt the child.
“I had lost my father just a day before. His death shattered me, but I mustered the strength to continue volunteering and engaging in relief work. And during this work, I met Jagan, who was also mourning the death of his father, but at such a young age. So I decided to bring him home with me,” the volunteer said, adding that he received permission from the Irular Tribal Protection of Rights Association and other officials to formally adopt Jagan.
A new chapter in life
Jagan hopes to become a doctor. His father’s first death anniversary was observed this May, and he went to his village for it, sources said.
“My mother is alone at home in the village, but she wants me to lead a better life. So, she is ready to let me stay away. I will become a doctor and take care of my mother. I will also save dying fathers so they won’t leave their children behind,” Jagan said.