Hope and despair: A story by Sonal Singh

‘I’m sorry,’ the doctor said, ‘Your child has tested positive for the AMBID virus.’

Naina, my wife, fell into a chair. I stood and stared at the doctor – rendered mute.

‘AMBID! How…how is that possible?’

Naina’s query brought me out of my inert state.

‘He’s a baby. We both tested negative. How can our child test positive?’ I asked, flummoxed.

‘Babies due to their low immunity are at risk. Your child is seven months old. He could have contracted it from just about anyone. His body could not resist such an invasive virus,’ the doctor explained.

In the darkness that swamped my sanity I heard Naina plead, ‘I want to see my baby…please, doctor.’
The doctor shook his head. ‘I’m sorry but, the risk of contagion is too high. We need to minimize your exposure. I cannot allow you in the NICU.’

What was he saying? We couldn’t be with our baby.

The doctor read the flurry of questions in my mind. ‘Don’t worry,’ he said, ‘Your baby will be cared for. That’s our job. Have faith.’

I nodded in response; my voice too constricted with emotion. Naina melted into my embrace, sobbing.

We had tried for years to conceive. And then, one day, miraculously there they were – two pink lines on the home pregnancy test. Naina had been ecstatic…for all of two months, before she had miscarried. Sadly, that wasn’t the only time. There were a few other heartbreaking instances. Each miscarriage broke a part of her. Until, at last this pregnancy had taken.
But now, this…


Our vigil began shortly. We camped outside the NICU praying while our baby boy’s tiny body battled virulent demons.

The nursing staffs understood our plight, our helplessness. They took our phones and shot videos of our baby for us. We could see our son, but we could not hold him. Hooked up to paraphernalia of tubes, he looked so fragile…our baby boy.

Our days melded into nights. Naina fielded fear and despair while I fielded phone calls from family and friends. We prayed, we pleaded with God and we prayed again. Nothing worked.

On the third night, our baby took a turn for the worse.

‘His body is too weak…the virus is too…’

We didn’t hear what the doctor said next. We had slumped in fervent prayer amid choked sobs. We spent that night dreading the worst. Every time the NICU door opened, we thought…

Come morning, even our hopes were decaying.

Then, the doctor exited the NICU. Miraculously, he smiled. Relief washed over us.

‘Good news! Your baby is out of danger and we are shifting him to a private room.’

We laughed, we cried and we hugged. Our baby was going to be fine.


On the day our baby was discharged, we held hands and said a prayer.

We may have got back our child back from the maw of death but there were many who had not. They left the hospital both empty-handed and empty-hearted.