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Aarti Bhardwaj with their aged parents, who live in Gurgaon, Haryana. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The pandemic has taken its toll on all of us in some form. It has separated us from our loved ones and the pressure of that separation is getting to some expatriates in UAE who are missing their loved ones — especially their aged parents whom they have not met since the pandemic hit the world last year.

According to expats Gulf News spoke to, even before the current flight suspensions came into effect, they had to put off their travel plans as they did not find it safe to travel home. They also did not want to risk contracting the infection during their travel and pass it on to their parents.

Take Ravi Bhardwaj, 52 and his wife Aarti, for instance, who hail from Gurgaon in Haryana. The couple have not met their aged parents since December 2019. “That was the last time we met our parents as we had visited Gurgaon for a friend’s son’s wedding. We have not been able to visit them since then. We were planning to visit them in May 2021, but the second wave has hit India and we had to put off our plans again,” said Ravi.

‘Managing on their own’

He added: “My parents, father — R.K. Bhardwaj and mother Pushpa — live alone in India. They are 82 and 73, respectively. So you can imagine how difficult it is for me not to meet them. Sometimes it becomes difficult for them to manage on their own in India, especially if the daily domestic help skips work.”

Aarti said: “It is really hard for us. I miss my parents too. But our family tested positive for COVID and had to defer travel plans. I only hope we will be able to travel soon.”

Renuka Narayanan, 52, a homemaker living in Dubai, said she too misses not seeing her aged parents — father Venkatesh, 88, and mother Radha, 79. “They live by themselves since I am the only child. They have never had a help at home. They do all the house work by themselves. Unfortunately, I have not met them since June 2019. It has been more than two years now.”

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Renuka Narayan with her parents. Renuka has not met her parents since June 2019. Image Credit: Supplied

‘Hoping to see them soon’

She admitted that COVID had taken its toll on her and her family. “My parents live in Mumbai, in the state of Maharashtra, where the toll from the second wave of the pandemic is high. I don’t think I will be able to travel this summer also as the numbers [of positive cases] are too high. I am hoping to see them soon and have a good family reunion.”

Ritu Puri Bhargava, a British expatriate of Indian origin whose aged parents live in New Delhi, said she cannot wait to see them. “Due to COVID, I haven’t seen my ageing parents for almost two years, like many other expats. It is a short flight to New Delhi, but I still had to put off my plans in view of the travel restrictions.”

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Ritu Puri Bhargava with her family. Ritu's aged parents live in New Delhi. Image Credit: Supplied

‘I wish I could be there’

She added: “Now with the second wave and the double mutant strain sweeping India, I don’t know whether I will be able to travel this summer also.” Worse still, Ritu’s parents and sister have tested positive in India. “I wish I could be there to take care of them. All I can do from here is pray for their speedy recovery.” She further said: “My son will be travelling to the United Kingdom for further studies. Unfortunately, he too will not be able to meet his grandparents if we don’t manage to visit during this summer.”

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‘I cannot risk travelling home’

Dr Zoeb Kachwala, 34, a dentist based in Dubai, had last met his parents — father Yusuf, 68, and mother Nisreen, 62, — for the last time in February 2020. “At first, last year, the lockdown restricted air travel. Then there was mandatory institutional quarantine for two weeks and now because of the serious situation in Mumbai, I cannot risk travelling home with a ten-month-old daughter. And my parents cannot travel here as they are still recovering from COVID.”