Kozhikode: Lini Puthussery's sons Rithul, 5, and Sidharth, 2, are yet to understand that their mother will never come back.
They haven’t seen her for the past few days, yet continue to believe that she is at work at the Perambra Taluk Hospital. The boys are used to Lini working late nights, so her family hasn't had difficulty into making the kids believe that she will be back soon. Still, Sidharth cries once in a while asking for his mother.
Lini had contracted the deadly Nipah Virus while tending to two brothers who were the first victims of the fever outbreak in Kozhikode. She breathed her last on Sunday night, without getting a chance to see her loved ones. Her husband Sajeesh, who works as an accountant in Bahrain, had flown down two days ago, yet never got a chance to see her alive.
Unable to meet her husband, Lini wrote a letter to her husband from the ICU. “Sajeeshetta, am almost on the way. I don’t think I will be able to see you again. Sorry. Please take care of our children. Poor Kunju (term of endearment for their son), please take him to the Gulf with you. Don’t leave them and go like (my) father did. Please. With lots of love… Kisses (sic),” it reads.
Sajeesh told News18 that Lini had gone to work last Wednesday despite running a fever as there was a shortage of nurses.
“I told her not to, but she did not listen to me. She told me there was a staff crunch at the hospital and she was needed there. She left a note for me from the ICU. It was given to me by a nurse after she died. She probably knew her end was near. I don’t know how I will take care of our children now,” he said.
Her family could not even hold a proper funeral, as her body was cremated in haste to prevent the virus coming in contact with others.
Lini and her two sisters had lost their father several years ago. Until her marriage, her family was dependent on her income. After completing her nursing course from the Pawan School of Nursing in Bangalore, she had struggled to repay her loans. Failing to find regular work, she had finally found employment as a daily-wage nurse at the Perambra Taluk Hospital, under a National Rural Health Mission scheme.
She had been working at the hospital for the past one year. Her colleagues at the hospital say she was extremely dedicated to her work.
Lini's death has prompted calls for better protection for nurses working in government hospitals in Kerala. Her death comes at a time when there is a heated battle on in the courts over fixing minimum wages and better working conditions for nursing staff. Lini's story shows the immense sacrifices some of these nurses make every day to treat the ill and the infirm.
(With inputs from Ashwin Vellath)