Published on May 16, 2021
Part of Stories Behind Stats series
AHMEDABAD: Twenty-four years, two months, and eleven days — Labhubhai Sonani, a resident of Bhavnagar and a person with visual impairment, did not need a second to recall how long he had been with his wife Neela, 53. “We would have celebrated our marriage’s silver jubilee in January next year,” said Sonani, the general secretary of Bhavnagar-based Krishnakumarsinhji Andh Udyog Shala.
Neela Sonani, also a person with visual impairment, was a music teacher with a Bhavnagar-based primary school. She passed away due to Covid complications on April 20. It has been nearly a month since her departure, but Sonani is yet to come to terms with the loss.
“She never allowed me to enter the kitchen or do any domestic chore all these years,” Sonani said. “She would always cite my so-called busy schedule. But circumstances changed in the month preceding her death.”
Sonani went on to say: “Call it premonition or her apprehension about the pandemic, she started asking me to cut vegetables, operate the gas stove, run the washing machine, and so on.”
Sonani said that he was surprised, and somewhat annoyed too. “But she was adamant,” he said. “She said, ‘you’ll have to take care of yourself when am not around’. And I would ask where she was planning to go in the Covid time.”
She was hospitalized for over 10 days, and in the last phase she was put on the ventilator. The doctors tried their best to revive her but she lost the battle against the virus. “Against the norms, the doctors allowed us — me and my daughter Nishtha — to meet her with all the precautions including wearing PPE kits in the hope that she will respond to our voices,” Sonani said.
The couple with blindness had seen many dreams together. “She would organize events for women with blindness, train them for various vocations, and always encourage them to become independent,” Sonani said. “I cannot reach her level of dedication, but I have pledged to continue her work as best as I can.”