Girl returnee given five minutes to attend father’s funeral; family locked inside to avoid contact

A homecoming which was to be a happy one turned tragic as a returnee was greeted with the news of her father's death on reaching Manipur.

She came back home after two long years to meet her family amid COVID-19 lockdown, but a homecoming which was to be a happy one turned tragic as she was greeted with the news of the death of her 67-year-old father on reaching Manipur.

Leivon Rahab, 32, from Sagang village, Churachandpur district was given only five minutes time to attend her father’s funeral as she had to return to the institutional quarantine centre opened at Sielmat Higher Secondary School. The quarantine centre is situated around 40 kilometers away from her village.

As a precautionary measure, she was also restricted from meeting other family members during her short visit, given the prevailing situation of COVID-19 in the state.

Like many other youths from the state, Rahab worked at a private company in Chennai and she has not been home for the past two years. However, owing to the prevailing situation of COVID-19 pandemic in the country, Rahab started her journey to Manipur on May 20 and reached the state on May 24.

As narrated by Rahab, she was in touch with her father through phone calls throughout her journey. She kept giving updates to her father regarding her journey and both shared their excitement and eagerness to meet each other soon.

On reaching Churachandpur, she entered the quarantine centre at Sielmat Christian Higher Secondary School around 4 in the morning on May 24 and called her family members to provide information, but they did not receive her call. Exhausted with the long journey, she then took a nap, she said. She was sleeping when she received a call from one of her sisters around 6 am to inform her that her father had passed away due to heart attack.

As per her request, the chief of Sagang village, Emmi Serto made necessary calls to the district administrations to arrange a special vehicle for Rahab so that she can attend her father’s funeral which is a must as per her tradition.

Speaking to the Imphal Free Press, Emmi Sero said, “By the time Rahab reached the village, I requested the villagers to vacate the house and even locked the family members inside. The measure was taken so that Rahab does not have any physical contact with other family members out of emotions owing to the tragedy”.

Rahab entered the house but came out crying even before completing her five minutes’ time and entered the van again, said Emmi.

Narrating her conversations with her father during her journey, Rahab informed that her father kept on advising her to avoid talking to strangers and to take proper care even inside the train as much as possible.

Rahab said, “I reached Manipur safely following the advice and prayers of my father. But he had left me when I am in a position to meet him”.

With the help from the village chief and district administration, Rahab could have taken a last glimpse of her father but she returned to the quarantine centre without meeting her other family members.

Rahab said, “It is my earnest prayer to God that others should not see or face the same situation which I am going through”. The chief of Sagang village further informed that Rahab’s father had plans to visit her daughter when she reached the quarantine centre in Churachandpur but things did not go as planned.

First Published:May 29, 2020, 11:12 p.m.