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 Anushka, a brave teenager based in Khargone, Madhya Pradesh, who is now a parent to her two younger siblings. As we continue to bring you untold stories of India's COVID Orphans, we urge you to support and empower us by becoming a Quint member.
Seventeen-year-old Anushka Satya and her two siblings lost both their parents in April this year during the COVID-19 second wave – and life has changed drastically for them since then.
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Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma
Within a span of 24 days, as the three siblings lost their parents, Anushka stepped up as both a mother and a father to seven-year-old Mitushka and four-year-old Akshay.
“First we lost our father, and while we were still reeling from the loss, the coronavirus took away my mom too. Those 24 days tore down our lives. Nothing made sense at that time, nothing still does, but we are trying.”Anushka
“Every time I look at my brother and sister, I realise what has fallen upon us. I have become both a mother and a father to them. I try my best but I can’t fill in for mummy-papa,” she added.
Their father Amit Madhusudan Satya was a journalist and mother Sangeeta Satya, a homemaker. On 4 April, Amit succumbed to COVID-19 and Sangeeta’s death followed soon. The family of five lived in Gogawan, Khargone, a little over 320 km from Madhya Pradesh's capital Bhopal.
The two younger siblings – Mitushka and Akshay – didn’t even get a chance to see their parents, while Anushka carried out the final rites with her extended family.
Public Humiliation, Sexist Remarks
As Anushka braves each day with an aim to turn things around, she has been subjected to societal pressure and sexist stigmas.
“After the death of my parents, when I took on the responsibility and started going out, people were quick to question my character. They said I will run away with someone, my character is loose, and that I shouldn’t go out because I am a girl,” Anushka said, staring at the garlanded portraits of her parents.
“Some said that I was happy on the demise of my parents and that in fact, I killed my parents, I got them infected with the virus,” she said.
Among all the prying eyes and foul words, Anushka finds solace in her grandmother, who is helping her fight all odds and takes care of the younger siblings.
“Jinka pet bhara rahta hai na unka muh bahut chalta hai (those with filled bellies talk a lot). Let them say what they want. The tragedy has fallen on us. I lost my son and daughter-in-law, these kids lost their mummy-papa and we have to endure it. Because if we will not do, then who will do it for us?” asked Parvatibai, Anushka’s grandmother.
Fulfilling Her Parents' Dreams
Anushka wants to be a bank officer as that was her father’s dream for her. She also wants to pursue graduation to fulfil her mother’s dream. But the road to Anushka fulfilling her parents' dream is not easy.
“I stepped up because there was literally no one who could get my brother a bar of chocolate or do the paperwork to get the benefits of the government schemes. It was all on us and I took over the job. I had to do it or be bullied and let people take advantage. I chose the former and I will continue my battle.”Anushka
Anushka’s parents have left a house loan of over Rs 5 lakh and a multi-front battle for Anushka, Mitushka, and Akshay. But Anushka has hope.
“My grandmother has always supported me. She is the only one who stood up when no one was there – and she has been a supportive companion all the way. Together we will endure it and one day this society will applaud us,” she said.