In her last moments, Ananda Mooliya reassured his wife and two sons that he was fine, although they could hear his labored breathing from the next room, to the sound of television.
His wife, Rajni Attavar, made him soup. Mooliya got out of bed with difficulty. With the help of his eldest son, Amith, the 56-year-old subway agent went to a kitchen chair at their home in Corona, Queens. Sweat beaded on his face. Her mouth was open.
“I wiped his face,” recalls Attavar, crying. “So I called her name. He did not answer. “
She sprinkled water on her head. Amith checked her father’s weakening pulse. Her younger son, Akshay Mooliya, 16, called 911. The paramedics arrived and, for about 10 minutes, helped him breathe with a respirator.
They then covered him with a white blanket on the kitchen floor.
It was April 8 at 9:37 p.m., according to his death certificate. The immediate cause of death has been listed as “Recent influenza-like illness (COVID-19 possible)”. Several hours passed before his body was lifted off the ground and taken to a morgue – and nearly three weeks before his cremation, family members said.
Manipulation of Mooliya’s body was not unusual at the time.
The number of deaths from the corononavirus has overwhelmed health care workers, morgues, funeral homes, crematoriums and cemeteries. Body bags pile up across the city that has become the epicenter of the pandemic.