SKOKIE, Ill. (WLS) -- Usha Kamaria is an activist who lives in Skokie, who is vaccinated against COVID-19, and who is mourning the loss of her mother who succumbed to the virus last week amid an uncontrollable viral surge in her home country of India.
"I don't know what was inside me. The voice kept on telling me I should go, I should go," she recalled, "and I knew I am going to a danger zone."
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Kamaria's mother, 90-year-lld Ramparsad Mehta, died one week ago Monday, four days after Kamaria returned to Chicago from her hometown Indrapore, Madhya Pradesh.
"So my mom comes out from her room, gives me a big hug, smiles, and sits next to me, and she was perfectly fine that day," Kamaria said.
That was April 15. COVID-19 was suddenly raging in India. Kamaria skipped a pre-wedding shopping trip for her son in New Delhi to see her mom one last time. By then, at least two people in the family had COVID.
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"I kind of felt that strange feeling leaving her because, I kind of, in my heart... you think maybe I am not going to see her. That this is my last time with her," she said.
Her experience is echoed by many in Chicago's Little India, where a jeweler spoke wistfully of her mother-in-law, who succumbed to the virus, and her anger at Indian authorities for letting the disease get away from them.
"It's heartbreaking to see healthy people die, and you do not know what you can do to stop that," said Nikita Chandani of N.P. Jewelers, Inc.
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In Skokie, Kamaria reflected on how quickly life can change as she takes solace in the teachings of Ghandi, and remembers the phone call she received from her brothers just days after she got back to the U.S.
"They said that she is just going downhill very fast and within three to four days I got a call from India," Kamaria remembered. "And my mom is no more."
Skokie activist mourns mother's death in India, part of COVID cases surge