Joefred’s twin Ralphred was at the same hospital battling for his life, and the parents say when they talked to him, Ralphred immediately sensed something was wrong.
Gregory Raymond Raphael and his wife, Soja, both teachers at St Thomas School in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut, got a phone call on May 13 that their 24-year-old son Joefred had died of COVID-19.
His twin Ralphred was at the same hospital battling for his life, the Indian Express reported. When the parents talked to him, Ralphred immediately sensed something was wrong. “Maa, you are hiding something. Something has happened and you are not telling me,” the news report quoted Ralphred as saying to his mother. The following day, Ralphred also passed away.
Born three minutes apart, the two brothers—hard-working, devoted to the family—died within hours of each other. "Our family is broken. COVID took away my sons who had never harmed anyone in their entire lives,” Raphael, who has another son, said.
Raphael, who moved with Soja to Kerala after their marriage in 1990s and later settled in Meerut, said the twins developed fever on April 23 that lasted several days. “They took medication but their condition deteriorated,” the report quoted Raphael as saying.
After their oxygen levels began to dip, the brothers were admitted to the local Anand Hospital and were put on ventilator support in the ICU around May 1.
The parents were hopeful after the twins tested negative on May 10. Three days later, Joefred died. “…When Joefred died, I had a sixth sense that Ralphred would not make it. Simply because they were inseparable,” Raphael said.
The two brothers got BTech from Karunya University in Coimbatore and secured placements in their final year. Joefred worked with Accenture Pvt Ltd and Ralphred was with Hyundai Mubis Company.
Joefred had been in Meerut for a while working from home, while Ralphred had come on leave from his Hyderabad office after injuring his arm.
The staff at Anand Hospital recalled their bond. “They were fit, well-built, 6 ft in height. The hospital staff, the doctors tried our best,” said Dr Munesh Pandit, the administrator, while not discounting the possibility of Ralphred deteriorating following Joefred’s death, even though the two were in separate sections.
"My faith in the Almighty has been shaken. My sons were pure and did not deserve this… They would massage my legs whenever I had aches. They liked being at home, doing household chores, even cooking… My eldest son now keeps telling my wife and I that we cannot leave him," Raphael told the Indian Express.
Uttar Pradesh, like most of India, has been hit hard by the second coronavirus wave, with daily infections and deaths rising to new highs. In recent days, there has been a drop in reported daily infections but concerns remain for rural areas, where testing is poor and the healthcare infrastructure rickety at best.