As parents, we know and recognize the various tones and pitches of our children's voices. We know when they are in distress, when they are uncomfortable, when they are happy, when they are sad. The shrilling sound I heard was of Simmi (my youngest). Immediately I knew something horrific was about to unfold. I ran towards the stairs and looked up, Simmi’s body was crumbling to the floor, she was howling.
I screamed for my husband and darted up the stairs. All the time praying out loud - “OH GOD, PLEASE GOD!“ She let out a huge cry - “DIDI” (Hindi for elder sister) and pointed towards Lilly’s room. I ran into Lilly’s room and saw Lilly sleeping.
I breathed a sign of relief. ”Sim - why are you crying? Didi is sleeping.“ I came closer to the bed, finally I saw what Sim saw. I screamed for my husband. I touched Lilly’s forehead, she was ice cold, ran my fingers through her hair and called out her name gently - Lalla? I knew we had lost her. My husband and I exchanged a look and I shook my head, tears quietly rolling down my face.
By this time my 3 daughters had entered the room. My Husband was having a panic attack, pacing up and down, pulling on his hair, not knowing what to do, continuously crying, screaming - “LALLA! LALLA!“. Asmita ran into the room - screamed and somehow had the presence of mind to call 911. Simmi leaning against the door frame in shock. Naina - screaming “NO MUM! I’M IN SPORTS MED! WE LEARNT ABOUT THIS! I’M GOING TO GIVE HER CPR!“. Naina started administering CPR. I looked at everyone and sobbingly said “She’s Gone Beto, She’s Gone Jaan”.
In the chaos, all I could do was hug Lilly. I crawled in bed beside her. Her hands were clasped together in prayer. It’s like she knew she was leaving us and said a prayer before starting her next journey. I tried to pull her hands apart but they were frozen together. I held onto her. I started whispering the verses from the Dua and Salwaat (Ismaili Prayers) in her ear, started whispering Om Namah Shivay (Hindu Mantra), kept repeating - ”It’s ok Beto, We Love you, Lalla why, Lalla, Lalla”.
At some point my husband joined me, kneeling next to her, holding the both of us and whispering mantras. I was hugging Lilly and praying. I wouldn’t let go of her. My body was in shock, my heart numb, a pit that had formed in my stomach was getting deeper as I realized the horror of the situation. I lost sight of everyone in the room. I was not conscious of what the others were doing. I was holding onto my baby, cradling her, unconditionally loving her, and praying for her.
In hindsight, I wish one of us were supporting Sim. I can only imagine the shock and trauma she was going thru on discovering her sister, seeing her parents break down, Naina frantically trying to revive Lilly, and Asmita losing it on the phone with 911,
The next four hours were a blur.......