The surge in the number of COVID-19 cases during the second wave of the pandemic earlier this year placed an unprecedented burden on India’s medical infrastructure. Several people lost their lives because of a shortage of oxygen supply in this sudden rise in demand. One such death that happened in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad has driven a man named Dhruval Patel to go on a mission of planting trees to replenish oxygen in nature. According to the Times of India, Dhruval who lost his wife Neha to COVID-19 infection saw her gasping for breath before she succumbed to the virus on May 12. She died because of low oxygen saturation while battling for life against the virus. Paying a unique homage to his wife, Dhruval along with his 15-year-old son Purva has now planted over 450 trees and pledged to nurture them in a bid to replenish oxygen in nature.
The pledge started at Siddhpur where he went to perform Neha’s last rites. Dhruval shared that the priest there asked him to take a pledge to plant and sustain at least three trees. The priest told him that that the wood that is being used to cremate the bodies is not from the trees planted by us and it is actually a gift from someone else. Thus, it must be paid forward. These words inspired Dhruval to take it upon himself to plant more trees.
During the second wave of COVID-19, four of five members of his family had contracted the virus. Along with Neha, Dhruval, his son and father were also infected by the virus. However, Neha condition deteriorated quickly and she needed critical care on the third day of the infection.
Dhruval says that he still has not been able to come to terms with his wife’s death. They were married for 17 years and never actually lived away from each other and it’s hard for him to prepare for a life where Neha will not be there. The duo married in 2004.