Nearly a week after she tested positive for Covid — and sought an ICU bed for herself on Twitter — a 38-year-old assistant professor from Jamia Millia Islamia died at a Faridabad hospital on Monday night.
According to colleagues and friends, Dr Nabila Sadiq, a PhD scholar from JNU, was teaching and helping students with their thesis until April 20.
Ten days before Nabila’s death, her mother Nuzhat (76) had also died of Covid-related complications. Her father was hospitalised for Covid but was eventually discharged and is under home quarantine.
Friends and family said Nabila wasn’t aware of her mother’s death, and died “worrying” about her parents.
Among her last tweets, on May 2, was: “At this rate no one will stay alive in Delhi at least.”
Laraib Neyazi (27), an MA student from Jamia, said, “When I came to know about her health, I rushed to her home with other students, and we started looking for a bed. We found one at Alshifa hospital, where she also tested positive for Covid. Two-four students would always stay at the hospital. Meanwhile, we rushed her mother to Sanjay Gandhi Hospital but she passed away. We didn’t tell Nabila because she was critical…”
Students said Nabila was a caring teacher who loved writing poems, and discussing politics and gender theory. Her students helped perform her mother’s last rites on May 7. Around the same time, Nabila’s health deteriorated.
Waqar, a student from JMI, recalls calling “every hospital in Delhi-NCR to get an oxygen bed”.
“Her friends helped us get a bed at Fortis Hospital in Faridabad. However, her oxygen levels dropped to 32%. After a CT scan, the doctor said her lungs were damaged. I received hundreds of calls every day from her colleagues, relatives and friends asking about her health. We didn’t know what to do” said Waqar.
“Every student who was pursuing gender studies wanted to do their PhD under her mentorship. She helped so many people during the pandemic. We would talk to her and tell her that her parents were missing her, hoping she would feel better and recover. But on Saturday night she was put on a ventilator,” said Waqar.
Nabila’s doctors said she wasn’t responding to medicines and treatment. She died around 11 pm on Monday.
On Tuesday, her students and friends performed her last rites at Mangolpuri, where her mother was buried ten days earlier.
Nabila’s father Sadique (80), a retired professor who taught at Aligarh Muslim University and JNU, was told about his daughter’s death in the afternoon.
He told his family members: “I think she loved her mother more and left with her… leaving me alone here.”
Nabila’s colleague and friend Tarannum Siddiqui said she feels helpless because Sadique is alone. “I have known Nabila and her family for seven years. They helped me last month when I had Covid. When Nabila was admitted to the ICU, I sent her messages on her phone. I knew she wasn’t reading them but I was waiting for her to recover, read those texts and meet me. She was an honest woman. We both taught gender studies. I can’t believe she has left me. JMI has lost a great academician,” said Tarannum.
Manasi Singh, a professor from the Central University of Gujarat, said she has known Nabila for 18 years. “We pursued our Master’s and PhD at JNU together. She was a good friend and a great scholar. I would watch her seminars online and admire her work. She was jovial and I loved her child-like innocence,” said Singh.