Reporter's Diary: "I have never seen so many tiny dead bodies before"
The situation in Muzaffarpur is grave. More than 100 children, between the age group of one and nine, have died. In such a scenario, it gets emotionally taxing for a ground reporter to bring to you stories from Ground Zero. Our health reporter brings to you the story so far … which is heart-wrenching
It's been four days that I have been reporting from Muzaffarpur where more than 100 children have died due to chamki bukhar or suspected encephalitis so far. These four days were emotionally exhausting and mentally taxing. This district in Bihar has turned into a graveyard of children.
While more than 100 children have died around me, thousands of young children are admitted in different government and private hospitals.
It's very depressing to report from hospitals. All I can hear is children crying loudly in pain, mothers wailing, fathers sobbing. When hospital staff bring out bodies out of intensive care units, it's heart wrenching. Doctors and medical staff have been working round the clock, but unfortunately, they could not contain a tragedy of this magnitude.
There are many health reporters here. Many of us have kids at home, so it becomes all the more difficult to report, and not get affected.
When I return to my hotel at night, I just can't erase images of young children wrapped in white sheets out of my mind. The shrieks of their mother and sobs of their fathers ring in my ears.
One morning when I reached one of the hospitals, I was informed that six children from one village had died. There was chaos all around.
I could not stop myself. There was a temple close by. I sat there and broke down. I have a four-year-old daughter. I couldn't stop thinking about her. I get worked up when an ant bites her. I can't imagine what these parents are going through whose kids are dying in their laps and arms.
All these helpless parents can do is pray ... to doctors, to the Almighty. When a mother breaks down, a father provides her emotional support. When a father breaks down, a mother becomes his strength. There were many single parents as well. They didn't have anyone. They were staring into nothingness.
I will never forget this woman who was hugging her mother-in law and crying. Her husband had left her many years back. Her 10-year-old son was her everything. She lost him. This was painful for me.
When a doctor visits a ward, people look up to him with lot of hope. "Doctor saab, please save my child", doctor saab, will my kid survive?" – that's the only conversation people have with these doctors, who are trying their best to save as many children as they can.
There was this father who was furious and said, "Our kids are dying. The authorities should kill us as well." There was a woman sitting on a bench close by. She was sobbing. She had just lost her son.
People are petrified to enter into Sri Krishna Medical College. This is where I come every morning. Most of the kids who have died come from poor families. This is probably why cries of their parents are not reaching authorities and politicians.
There is absolute mismanagement at hospitals. So many kids have died, local and national media is present here and yet it is exasperating to see how these hospitals function.
Mahesh Kumar from Vaishali, whose daughter is admitted in a hospital, said: "There are no doctors here. Those who are here, don't visit all the wards. There are no toilets here. I have to leave my daughter and go out. I don't think my daughter will survive here."
Parents are furious and their anger is justified.
For me, I may go back to my life, but it will take me a while to get over what I have seen here.
I have not seen so many tiny dead bodies before. This wound will take long to heal.