Dubai: Scores of people on Wednesday paid a tearful adieu to an Indian expat who died a day before his pregnant wife - repatriated from the UAE a month ago - delivered their first child.
Nithin Chandran, who turned 28 on June 2, and his wife Athira Geetha Sreedharan, 27, had become the face of Indians stranded abroad after she filed a writ petition with the Supreme Court of India, seeking help to return home during the COVID-19 pandemic for the delivery that was expected to be in the first week of July.
Life took a tragic turn after Nithin, who had stayed back in Dubai, was found to have died in his sleep on Monday morning. A death notification issued by the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Tuesday said he had died of a cardiac arrest.
His body was repatriated late on Tuesday night on a chartered flight from Sharjah to Kochi in Kerala.
The devastating news of Nithin's death was revealed to Athira on Wednesday morning, a day after she gave birth to a baby girl through a caesarean section that her relatives had opted for following the tragedy.
The relatives had got her hospitalised when her blood pressure shot up after she was told that Nithin, who had a history of a heart ailment, had fallen ill.
“She already expressed some doubts as he had not called her even after the delivery,” Nithin’s friend Bibin Jacob told Gulf News.
“She asked why he wasn’t calling, even if he was in the hospital, since he had called her from the hospital last time when he was admitted,” said Bibin.
Counselling session, emotional scenes
A counselling session was arranged to break the news to Athira after Nithin’s body landed in Kochi.
Following this, the ambulance carrying his coffin to his hometown in Kozhikode stopped by the Aster MIMS Hospital’s parking lot for Athira and her family to see Nithin for the last time.
Bibin said Nithin’s face could be seen through a glass cover of the casket.
The emotional scenes of Athira being brought to the ambulance parking lot in a wheel chair were telecast live by some television channels in Kerala.
The bereaved woman wore a face shield, mask and gloves and bore the pain from the surgery on top of the mental trauma of not being able to even touch her husband for the last time.
However, the media was restricted from going near the ambulance during the ten minutes when Athira was allowed to bid a final goodbye to Nithin, who had seen her off at Dubai Airport with dreams of a reunion after their child’s birth, just a month ago.
Nithin's mortal remains were later cremated in the traditional way on the premises of his house in the Perambra area of Kozhikode district.
Advocate Hashik T.K, a legal consultant and social worker, who was involved in the repatriation procedures of Nithin’s body, said several people bid an emotional farewell to Nithin at the embalming session in Dubai and at the funeral ceremony in Kerala.
He said social worker Ashraf Thamarassery, Hyderali Thattathazhath, president of Incas Youth Wing, a community organisation that supported the couple to file the writ petition, was also instrumental in repatriating Nithin’s body.
Several members of Incas and Blood Donors Kerala-UAE chapter and other community members attended the embalming session on Tuesday afternoon.
Many political leaders from Kerala and the Consul General of India in Dubai, Vipul, conveyed their condolences to Athira and Nithin’s family on the untimely death of the young expatriate, who was known for his social work with blood donation and food kit distribution even during the COVID-19 pandemic.