Dr Rekha Krishnan from Kerala shares with Gulf News what urged her to say ‘Kalima’.
Dubai: It was a random act of kindness but it reverberated across the world that needed not only physical but also spiritual healing. It was also a strong testament to the good of humanity — where religious boundaries did not exist — a Hindu woman doctor whispering a thoughtful Islamic prayer to a 57-year old female Muslim patient dying from severe COVID-19.
It happened on May 17 at Sevana Hospital and Research Centre in Pattambi, Palakkad district of Kerala, India. Dr Rekha Krishna, 37, who grew up in Dubai, was the attending doctor and one of her patients was taken out of the ventilator after 17 days when her organs started to crash one by one.
Dr Rekha told Gulf News in a phone interview from India on Friday: “The patient (female, 57 years old) was suffering from acute COVID-19 pneumonia and she was on ventilator for 17 days and her family and relatives were not allowed in the ICU.”
“I could see her suffering but as a doctor, there was nothing that I could do when her organs started shutting down,” said Dr Rekha, adding: “After she was taken off the ventilator I just went to her to ease her pain and, in a spur of a moment, I uttered the Kalima — La ilaha illallah Muhammadur Rasulullah (There is no God but Allah; Muhammad (PBUH) is the messenger of Allah).
“My act was not planned. It was a random act of kindness. It was not about religion but a sign of humanity,” Dr Rekha, who last visited Dubai in March to bring her two kids for vacation, explained.
She added: “It happened [in] the spur of the moment — and maybe, because of my upbringing in Dubai.”
Dr Rekha said she learnt of the Islamic prayer when she was child growing up in Dubai. Her parents moved to the UAE from Kerala when she was two months. Dr Rekha was raised in the emirate and she graduated from Indian High School before returning to India to get her medicine degree.
“My personality, my character — I could say — was honed by Dubai. I was raised in an environment, where there was no religious divide. We went to a temple in Bur Dubai and next to it was mosque. And my parents used to say — there was positive energy at both the temple and mosque,” she added.
Dr Rekha said the same positive attitude moved her to whisper the Kalima to her dying patient. “I was not exactly a religious gesture but a humane act and I saw the positive impact it had to a dying patient. After reciting the prayer, I heard my patient taking two deep breathes and she flatlined (passed away),” she noted.
“But I knew she left her worldly abode on a happy note; the prayer must have helped eased her pain,” Dr Rekha added emphatically, adding: “She was alone for over two weeks and as a health worker, I was the one who acted as the bridge or a messenger to her family. In the end, I could say my patient left the world at peace and I could sense she felt blessed.”
On a personal note, Dr Rekha said her final interaction with her patient also brought her inner peace. “In India, the COVID situation is still bad. More and more people are dying of COVID. The second wave has affected the young more than the old.”
“To keep my sanity, amid all these tribulations, I just always keep in mind the lesson my grandfather taught me: “Don’t keep looking at negative things; focus on the positive.
No matter what, the sun will rise and we have to live for tomorrow. It is heartening to note that now more people are getting better and there is a hope that this will come to an end,” Dr Rekha, adding this was also the lesson she learnt for her former mentor, Dr Maj Gen K J Shetty.
Good deed gone viral
Dr Rekha said she did not intend to announce the good deed to the public. She only told her mother and her colleague, Dr Mustafa, a Muslim doctor, who asked her incredulously if she understood the prayer she uttered. Dr Rekha said — yes, she understood every word of it and she has learnt it at heart when she was a child.
Dr Mustafa wrote about the good deed on Facebook and it became viral on social media, earning Dr Rekha praises and blessings for her random act of kindness.