Nurse Lini’s widower donates first month’s salary to Kerala CM’s relief fund

Sajeesh with his family a few months before Lini's death.

Sajeesh with his family a few months before Lini's death.

“The government and people of Kerala stood by me and my two children in our worst crisis, and I wanted to make at least a token repayment of this huge emotional debt.”

This is how Sajeesh Puthur, 36, described the donation of his first monthly salary as a government clerk to the Kerala Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund to battle the fury of the floods raging across the State.

Viewed against the mammoth task of rebuilding lives, livelihoods and the economy, Sajeesh’s donation of Rs. 25,200 could look a pittance. But his sentiment doesn't.

He is the husband of nurse Lini, who died a valiant death this year, having contracted the Nipah during the May-June outbreak of the virus in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts that took 17 lives.

“My wife sacrificed her life for the sake of her duty as a nurse,” Sajeesh told The Hindu. “I am proud of her. The government gave me my current job in lieu of her sacrifice.”

Lini, 33, mother of a five-year-old and a two-year-old, worked at the taluk hospital at Perambra when Mohammed Sadiq, who was the second Nipah victim, got admitted there. She nursed him in spite of the huge risk, and eventually contracted the virus.

Sajeesh, at the time working in Bahrain, flew down to get a final glimpse of his dying wife, but couldn't as she was in the isolation ward. She died on May 21. Sajeesh and the two kids didn't even get a chance to see her one last time because of the extra-cautious anti-virus safety measures.

Lini soon became the public face of Kerala’s internationally-acclaimed victory over Nipah. She also became an icon of the medical profession that could detect and identify the virus pretty early on. And, more important, she is now the badge of honour of the pathetically- underpaid profession of nursing. In a rare gesture, The Economist magazine carried a full-page obit on Lini.

Sajeesh left his Gulf job to take care of the children who now live with Lini’s mother at Chembanoda. The Kerala Government, as a token of its appreciation of his wife's sacrifice, employed him as a clerk at the primary health centre at Koothali near Perambra at the end of July. On Independence Day, he handed over the cheque of his first full-month salary to Excise Minister T.P. Ramakrishnan at Vadakara.

“I will always be grateful to the government and the people supported and comforted me,” said Sajeesh.

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Printable version | May 17, 2022 1:23:30 pm |