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Orphaned By COVID, 9-Year-Old Wants to Fulfil Mother's Last Wish – Becoming a CA

Nine-year-old Arnav Gothad lost his parents within a span of 12 days, during the peak of COVID-19 pandemic. 

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India
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Camera: Sanjoy Deb, Gautam Sharma

Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

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(Dear Reader,

COVID deaths are not just numbers. This story is The Quint's effort to put a human face to the many tragedies witnessed across the country during the deadly second wave. It's the story of Arnav, a 9-year-old whose childhood was snatched from him by the virus as he lost both his parents. Every word he spoke is laced with heaviness of missing his parents. Please support us by becoming a Quint member and help us bring you the stories of India's COVID Orphans.

Regards,

Mythreyee Ramesh)

When Arnav Adesh Gothad's parents left him with his grandparents in Thane on 12 April, after his father started showing mild symptoms of coronavirus, little did he know that it will be the last time he speaks to either of them in person.

A week later, he lost his 35-year-old father Adesh Gothad to the COVID-19 pandemic. He did not get to see his face or even speak to him in his last days.

"I did not talk to my papa. Neither did I see his face before his death. But I used to see the state of my mother on video call. It was really bad. She was kept on a lot of oxygen. Her face was swollen," Arnav told The Quint.

"I was just drinking tea here. I had arranged Good Day biscuits in a line and I was eating them when I suddenly heard a sound. I just came to the bedroom. I did not understand what was happening... why everyone was crying. Then I got to know that this has happened."
Arnav Gothad to The Quint
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12 days later, the household was engulfed in grief again. This time, he lost his mother.

"Everyone else was talking outside. My aunts and uncles and some more people had come. Everyone was sitting outside, and I was inside the bedroom. Then again, I heard the same kind of sound. I wondered... Again, everyone was crying. Then the car came. When my father passed away, I did not go. But I went to the hospital when my mother died."
Arnav Gothad to The Quint
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'Arnav Has Not Shed a Single Tear'

For a nine-year-old, Arnav has taken his parents death with great maturity, his grandparents say, adding that they are worried that he has not shed a single tear since he heard of his parents death.

"He used to say, 'Mummy, you come back soon. We will welcome you. You will fight the coronavirus.' He used to say all these things to his mother. He used to tell us that his mother will come back soon. He also felt that his mother will come back we will cut cake. He used to tell us all these things. But God did not listen to him," says Arnav's maternal grandmother, who is taking care of him.

"Now I have my uncles and my grandmother, my grandfather and my aunt. If they weren't there, I would have been an orphan. Today, because of these people, these five people, I am alive."
Arnav Gothad to The Quint

Arnav may not have shed a tear. But there is heaviness in every sentence he speaks – especially when he remembers his parents.

"Before my father fell sick, every Sunday my mother used to make Mattar Paneer. It was my favourite. She would make it really spicy. I miss that a lot. My father used to click a lot of photos of me. We did not talk much but he used to have a lot of fun. He used to say okay as oksay. I miss him..."
Arnav Gothad to The Quint
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A Family That Dotes On Arnav

Unlike lakhs of COVID orphans left to fend for themselves, Arnav has an extended family who are ready to give him the world.

His uncles take care of his education, while his grandparents and aunty dote on hi. But the family is facing financial hardships – with a chunk of their savings spent on hospital bills to treat Arnav's parents. However, they are keen on providing Arnav the best possible access to education.

The child is also yet to receive government aid for COVID orphans from either Maharashtra or the Centre.

My father's laptop was there but it became old. So, it never used to work. I used to use it sometimes. But if I get a new laptop, I can study better.
Arnav Gothad to The Quint

He wants to study better, he says, to fulfil his mother's last wish – to see him become a Chattered Accountant (CA).

"I will become a chartered accountant because that was my mother's dream. My mother's wishes were that I become a CA. But I wanted to become a shopkeeper. But after my mother's death, I know that I want to become a CA and not a shopkeeper."

Arnav is always smiling. Off camera, he says, that's how his parents would want him to be.

"If my Papa got admitted earlier, my mom would have also been admitted earlier. Then I would have told my father that 'Wah, you did the right thing you got admitted earlier. You did the right thing. If there was no COVID, my mom and dad would have been here. That's what I feel," he looks into blank space, but with a heavy heart.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  covid orphans 

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