Usha Gupta told SheThePeople.TV, “My husband and I contracted COVID in April 2021 during the second wave; We were hospitalised and put on oxygen cylinders. I was terrified because of our age–I was 87 and my husband was 93! ‘I will always be by your side’, I reassured him and kept praying for our well-being.
We were in the hospital for almost a month; I saw a lot of misery around me. Young people were collapsing in front of me; There were families that lost their only earning member.
3 weeks into being admitted, we were stable and started showing signs of recovery. But on the 9th of May, my husband’s oxygen levels dropped. The next thing I heard was that he was no more; I was shattered!
That day, I not just lost my life partner but also my best friend and companion. We’d been together for 6 decades–It was almost as if I didn’t know how to live without him. After being discharged, I’d have sleepless nights pondering over my loss and the loss of thousands of lives; I’d cry my heart out feeling helpless.
2 weeks later, when the cases were increasing, I went to my granddaughter and said, ‘I really want to do something to support the families of covid martyrs.’ She retorted, ‘Nani you make such tasty pickles. Why don’t you start a pickle business and donate the money you earn by selling them?’. I loved the idea!
The very next day, after sourcing necessary goods, I started my journey with ‘Pickled With Love’. I started with three flavours – khatta aa, grated mango chutney and gulabi meetha achaar. The initial orders came from friends and family. Gradually, I started getting a lot of orders through Instagram. I’d sent each pickle bottle with a handwritten note.
Within 2 months, I was able to raise close to Rs 20,000! And so far, we have fed 65,000 needy people from the profits I earned by selling these pickle bottles. The third wave has gripped the country again and has brought back haunting memories of what we suffered but these tough times are teaching us that we can’t escape suffering–The only way to deal with it is by connecting with other people, empathising with them and helping them ease their suffering. I am sure my husband is watching me from above and is proud of what I am doing.”
This article is an edited excerpt from Usha Gupta’s interview with SheThePeople