A young Indian mother locked herself up with her child in an apartment for three years because she was convinced the boy would die of Covid-19 as soon as he set foot outside the home.
In what can only be described as an extreme case of Covid-19 paranoia, a 36-year-old woman from Gurugram cut herself and her son from the outside world when the pandemic started. The woman, likely shocked by the wave of coronavirus infections and Covid-19-related deaths that swept India in 2020, somehow got it in her head that cutting off all contact with the outside world was the only way to protect her son, who was 7 years old at the time. The woman’s husband was also forced to stay indoors with them at all times, but when he started going out to work after lockdown restrictions ended he was forbidden from coming back. Sick of being cut off from his family for years, he finally sought help from the police last week.
Sujan Majhi, an engineer working in Gurugram, told police that his wife had been locked up in the family apartment for three years, and that he had had to rent himself another place to live after being forbidden from entering. The man had been covering the bills, paying the rent of the apartment and leaving groceries outside the door for many months now, hoping that everything would get back to normal soon, but he eventually decided he needed outside help.
When police first heard Mahji’s story, they couldn’t believe it, so they called his wife, Munmun, who confirmed the man’s version, adding that her 10-year-old son was “absolutely fit”. The officer asked the mother if she could confirm the boy’s well-being via video call, and that’s when the police realize the gravity of the situation. Not only was the home a complete mess, with mountains of trasheverywhere, but the boy looked unkept, with long hair that reached past his shoulders.
“His mother was in a panic over Covid. She had no intention of stepping out. She kept saying, ‘I will not let my son step out because he will die immediately’,” the officer in charge of the case told journalists. “I kept talking to her, kept asking her if she needed any help. I think she started trusting me. So when I called her to the police station today, she came, but the child was not with her. We finally managed to convince her. She was taken to a hospital, and we then went to the flat to rescue the child.”
When they entered the apartment, the policemen were in shock. The trash hadn’t been taken out in three years, so there were piles of garbage everywhere, a layer of thick dirt covered every surface, and the walls were covered with writing and drawings, likely by the boy, who hadn’t interacted with anyone but his mother during the long lockdown.
Both the mother had her 10-year-old son have been admitted to the psychiatric ward for treatment, but Sujan Majhi is hopeful that their lives will be back on track soon.