As India's surge wanes, families deal with the devastation

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Radha Gobindo Pramanik holds photographs of his daughter who died of COVID-19 in Lucknow, India, Thursday, June 3, 2021. Two months ago Pramanik and his wife threw a party to celebrate their daughter's pregnancy and the upcoming birth of their long-awaited grandchild. Within days, his wife, his daughter and his unborn grandchild were all dead, among the tens of thousands killed as the coronavirus ravaged India in April and May. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

LUCKNOW – Two months ago Radha Gobindo Pramanik and his wife threw a party to celebrate their daughter's pregnancy and the upcoming birth of their long-awaited grandchild. They were so happy that they paid little attention to his wife's cough.

It's an oversight that may forever haunt him. Within days, his wife, his daughter and his unborn grandchild were all dead, among the tens of thousands killed as the coronavirus ravaged India in April and May.

“Everyone whom I loved the most has left me,” the 71-year-old said on a recent night as a Hindu priest chanted mantras and performed a ritual for the dead at his home in the northern city of Lucknow. “I am left alone in this world now.”

As India emerges from its darkest days of the pandemic, families across the country are grieving all that they’ve lost and are left wondering if more could have been done to avoid this tragedy.

There are also signs that the virus is not done devastating India’s families because even as new infections are down, thousands are still dying each day and the illness is believed to be spreading undetected in areas without access to testing.

Ruby Srivastava lost her family in a single week in April. First her mother and father to the virus. Then her brother to a motorcycle accident. And finally her grandmother to shock.

Now the 21-year-old is left dealing with the insurmountable pain and the questions she asks herself.

She wonders if things might have been different if her father, a government worker in Lucknow, hadn't been called away to help hold local elections in their state of more than 200 million people.