"Nobody in our family has a history of heart disease"
One morning in October 2019, while Bolumalla Gangadhar was in a holiday in India, he screamed in agony in the bathroom. - It was a heart attack, but no one in our family has had heart problems before, says his son Kiran. Even though it has been a while now since the father died during the holiday at home in India, Kiran cannot let go of what happened. How could a completely healthy and fit man suddenly die from a heart attack? - He never said anything about his job. Not even what he did. He only repeated this mantra: "Do not come here. You do not know what it is like here, and you do not want to know it either”.
Told to the journalistic platform Blankspot
One morning in October 2019, Bolumalla Gangadhar who was in his bathroom in the Indian province of Telangana, broke out in sweats and started screaming in pain. Hitting his chest with clenched fists, he yelled to his son for help. By the time he arrived at the hospital, only 500 meters away, he was pronounced dead.
“It was no heart attack. Nobody in our family has a history of heart disease, even the doctor was shocked,” says his son, Kiran, who is a law school student.
Bolumalla Gangadhar had just come home from Qatar for the first time in three years for his daughters wedding. He had been doing migrant work in Qatar since 2004.
“It was a hard, physical job with poor pay. He came home every other year for two months. But this time he had been gone for three years since he worked extra hard to be able to afford the dowry for my sister,” Kiran says.
Even if it’s been a while, Kiran have a hard time. How could a completely healthy man suddenly die of a heart attack? He often thinks about the phone conversations with his father.
“I would ask him about his job, how it was and if he was okay, but he never said a word about it,” Kiran says. “‘Do not come here. You don’t know what it’s like and you don’t want to know,’ he repeated like a mantra.”
Kiran didn’t even know what his father’s job was. But he remembers that his father often sounded tired, some times with a streak of pain in his voice.
“’I am working hard over here so you can get a better life than I had,’ he said some times. My father was my pillar and now he is gone. I feel lost,” he says.
Bolumalla Gangadhar’s family does not know how much he made per month since he sent home money every quarter, or when there was a need.
“He lived in a room with six other workers and cooked all his own food. The roommates were from Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh.”
The company retired everyone at 50 because of the hard labor, but Bolumalla Gangadhar was appreciated and allowed to stay after he turned 50.
So after giving 14 years of his life working in Qatar, Bolumalla Gangadhar he would die – at home on the bathroom floor.
Six months later, the daughter got married after Kiran took a loan for $133.
“The company my father worked for during all these years sent $20 as compensation for his death,” he says.
Before Covid-19 shut the country down, Kiran was a college professor, but now he has to find some other type of work to pay off the debt.
“I wonder every day why my father died,” he says. “He was a healthy man.”