The Sunday Leader

A Life Snatched Away By Dengue

By Ashanthi Warunasuriya

We well understand the uncertainty of life. But, there are many who live as if they are here to stay forever, perhaps knowingly or un-knowingly. Yet, among them there is a handful who has understood the real meaning of life and its uncertainties. They are the ones who have grasped the true value of life and the fact that we are not here to live forever.

With everything that is happening around us, it is hard to ignore these incidents, be it pleasant or unpleasant. Hence, The Sunday Leader thought of bringing to you this little thought on life and its uncertainties. Although life is definitely uncertain, it is yet the most painful when we have to face sudden death or untimely death where the lives of loved ones are snatched away at the most unexpected time. The pain of losing a child or sibling or a loved one, when least expected, is a grief that no one, no matter how strong, can deal with. Yet we have no answers as to why or how this happens and how we could prevent such tragedies.

At present, the number of dengue patients are said to be reducing, but government hospitals as well as private hospitals are still full of dengue patients. Although dengue started off as an illness or infection, it later spread so fast that it was eventually categorised as an epidemic. There were many dengue patients who died of the infection while some had to face this untimely death in the most horrible of conditions. For some patients could not even find a bed to accommodate them, as most hospitals were filled to capacity with dengue infected patients. Some had to die on corridors of hospitals, on chairs and other makeshift places as there were insufficient beds at hospitals to accommodate them. The death toll was staggering and exceeded 300. One such unfortunate incident was the death of Aseni Amith, whose life was not only snatched away at the most unexpected hour, but this little mosquito deprived her little daughter the love and protection of a mother.

“I can’t still come to terms with what happened. Had the hospital been more concerned and administered the treatment more efficiently, perhaps they could have saved the life of Aseni. She would still be alive among us,” said her grieving husband Amith. Aseni was a very active member in her village and she always stood up against injustice and was a live wire among her friends and family. Due to their active role in their community, Aseni and Amith were both loved and respected in their village and were a popular couple. “In this capitalistic society, it is difficult to resolve these issues,” added Amith.

In a banner that was put up in her name, the villagers had written, “You being the one who said, ‘We won the day’, was unable to win your life, mainly due to the short-sighted and insensitive actions of the rulers. We lost you because we failed to create the world that you so desired. Hence, we certainly need to change this wicked rule and system, because if not, what happened to you today, could happen to us tomorrow.”

Amith is devastated and he no longer has the tears to cry. Moreover, he tries to hide his grief and pain and is holding back his tears, mainly because of his little daughter of 2 ½ years. She has lost her mother and that void no one will ever be able to fill. It is uncertain if it was the negligence of the health authorities or if it was simply fate that took Aseni away from this world, but irrespective of that fact, today what is clear is that this little child has been deprived of a mother.

Amith Devapriya is a 30-year-old still in his prime. His wife Aseni Nirula Weerasuriya was just 28-years at the time of her untimely demise. They lived in Ragama and the couple had a little daughter of 2 ½ years who was the centre of their world. Having loved each other for many years and having overcome all obstacles, this couple finally wed six years ago. Amith works at the Courts as a government employee. This loving home was devastated in the most horrible of circumstances. No one ever expected this family to face such a fate. But, in the end such is life and no one, no matter how big or small, has control over life and their death.

“That day Aseni complained of a severe headache and she had a temperature, immediately we took her to the hospital, but due to the overcrowding of the hospital, they could not admit her, and sent her home. Then we took her to a private hospital but that too was filled to capacity with patients. But, they took a blood test and found that it was positive to dengue. Her platelet count kept dropping but the hospital still could not admit her as there was no space. Finally when her platelet count dropped to 85,000, they eventually admitted her to the Ragama Hospital. Yet, she had to sleep on the floor of the corridor of the ward as the ward was full of patients,” Amith sobbed. He had to pause for a while as he broke down in tears, unable to bear the pain of losing his beloved wife.


At the time, adding to the misery, the hospital was undergoing a water scarcity and the patients had to bring from home not only drinking water, but also water for their toilet requirements. With her condition worsening, the hospital authorities had removed another patient who was occupying a bed and put Aseni on that bed. However, Aseni’s condition took a drastic turn where even her kidneys were affected and she had to be taken in for surgery. By the third day her condition was even worse and she had also stopped communicating or responding. Yet, Aseni’s biggest concern was her daughter and she was so worried of what might happen to her daughter in the event she did not get well. Sadly, Aseni’s condition turned critical by the fourth day and she bid adieu to this world in the most heart breaking manner. There was no time for goodbyes, no time for last words. She just left this world without a single word.


“No one in our area was infected with dengue. I don’t know how she got dengue. After Aseni’s death the PHI said he would come here and check. But, to date no one has sighted this area. They did not even fumigate this area, after Aseni’s death. The government needs to take responsibility for this. This is their fault for not having taken greater precautions to prevent such incidents. But, instead of taking responsibility, they are trying to escape from their responsibility and blame the people. Today dengue deaths have become a normal thing,” Amith said quite annoyed at the inconsideration of the government officials.


Today as we speak there are many who are either fighting for their life or some who have lost their fight. There are many who are dying every day of dengue somewhere in this country even as we speak. It could be a mother, father, child or even new born, but dengue does not discriminate and everyone is vulnerable. Today not only should people be safeguarded from the deadly bite of the dengue mosquito, but also the mosquitoes should be safeguarded from dengue patients, as they could carry the virus from an infected person and infect others.


Comprehensive prevention measures need to be taken and as they say ‘prevention is better than cure’. But, it is questionable if our preventative measures are sufficient. There is no other way than to make sure our environments are kept clean and the breeding of the dengue mosquito is prevented. This not only calls for the efforts of the government, but also the general public.


It is high time that we stop waiting for the authorities to take preventative measures and we also do our part to prevent this deadly disease from spreading and claiming any more lives than those that have already been lost to this deadly dengue scourge.


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