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‘Will It Impact My Baby’: Mother’s Anguish in Kashmir

‘Will It Impact My Baby’: Mother’s Anguish in Kashmir

“I was so anxious that I started crying,” Naseem recalls her hospital visit a fortnight later. “I wasn’t worried about myself, but for my baby.”


Just when Naseem had lost the track of cases and concern, she felt those startling signs making one a fitting case of Covid.

The symptoms surfaced when a barrage of mind-numbing cases had made it look like a household curse. 

Yet to celebrate her baby boy’s first birthday, the mother in her late twenties subsequently stepped out for her hometown Bandipora’s health centre. 

The panic scenes she would watch on her smartphone were now unfolding in front of her eyes. 

In droves and dozens, Kashmiris were falling in line for the desperate test determining their ‘bugged’ state.

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Stealing some moments of solace that day, Naseem sat under the shade of a Chinar tree planted in the infirmary’s courtyard. 

The morning sun shone her glum face as she glimpsed the grieving of gathering upon declared positive.

While thinking about the acid test she was about to pass, she was trying to calm down her baby with breastfeeding. 

“I was so anxious that I started crying,” Naseem recalls her hospital visit a fortnight later. “I wasn’t worried about myself, but for my baby.” 

This motherly concern is getting viral when the second Covid wave is going berserk in the valley. Apart from making mothers’ breathless, it’s creating a searing separation between babies and birth-givers.

Down in Srinagar, when Sabroz tested positive for Covid, she picked up what she calls the most heartbreaking routine of her life. 

“My baby boy would be shown to me outside my window every now and then,” the mother who lately beat the Covid says. 

“I was a captive who couldn’t even console her piece of heart.”

These ‘unreported’ motherhood struggles are defining new routines when the pandemic is piling dead bodies around. 

Mother with Corona patient Kid in Punjab. / web archives

For Jasmin, it was a happy motherhood routine before Covid cast its shadow. 

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When the revelation rattled her, she first thought of her 15-month-old baby. 

Once shifted from home to hospital, she kept asking her sibling about her infant. The concern didn’t thaw even when the virus made her gasp for breath and shifted her back to home isolation. 

Silent tears at night, in longing for her child, would give her some moments of solace and rest. By the daybreak, however, the video-calling and distant pampering would often leave her in a shattered state of mind.

“And when she couldn’t take it anymore,” recalls Nusrat, Jasmin’s sister, “she wore a PPE-kit and took her cry baby in her arms. She cried the loudest at that point of time.”

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Such captive motherhood chronicles surfaced soon after Kashmir witnessed its first Covid case last year. A ‘negative’ mother’s heroic act of playing her ‘positive’ kid’s “geared guardian” in Srinagar’s JLNM hospital last spring not only won hearts but also highlighted Kashmir’s inherent resilience of “fighting together” in crisis.  

But playing the same role amid the Covid resurgence wasn’t possible for Mehnaz — whose month-old baby was taken away from her when symptoms appeared.

Inside her room, her inconsolable child’s cries made her restless for days. 

Devoid of breastfeeding, her baby would hardly make peace with a feeder. 

This unrelenting wailing for mother finally forced Mehnaz to come out of her room, with mask and gloves, and fed her baby. 

Meanwhile, inside Bandipora’s health centre, Naseem kept wondering, if she tests positive, would she be able to breastfeed her baby?

With a trembling heart that day, she lined up for the test and waited for the result. 

A young health worker in PPE kit curtly ended her mental agony: “You’re positive.” 

The outcome flooded her eyes and shuddered her body. 

And once done with crying, her parched throat pleaded the case of her child: “Will it impact my baby?”

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