In a rare example of the famous saying, "A friend in need is a friend indeed," a man travelled from Ranchi to Noida to make oxygen cylinders available for his ailing childhood friend who had tested positive for COVID-19. He was left with an oxygen supply of just 10 hours.
Devendra Kumar Rai, 34, travelled over 1,200 kilometres non-stop by car, lent by another friend, and succeeded in bringing the oxygen right on time before the only cylinder available with his friend was about to finish.
His friend, Rajan Kumar Singh, for whom Rai covered a distance of 1,200 km in merely 15 hours, is recovering fast and is out of danger now.
At 1 am on April 25, Rai received a call from Sanjay Saxena, who happened to be a local guardian during his stay in Noida with his friend Sachin, a few years ago.
Saxena informed Rai that his friend Rajan urgently needed oxygen as he was infected with COVID-19.
"Sanjay Bhaiya told me that due to an acute shortage of oxygen in Delhi-NCR, they are unable to procure oxygen cylinders for him. He further said that oxygen supply of only 10 hours had been left with them, and if another cylinder of oxygen is not arranged, anything may happen," Rai told The New Indian Express.
Without wasting any time, Rai left for Bokaro on his bike with the impression that he will manage the oxygen cylinder from there as the Steel Authority of India (SAIL) manufactures oxygen.
After searching the entire night, Rai somehow managed to get two cylinders in the afternoon through a contact who runs an oxygen plant in Bokaro. But the next problem for Rai was how to transport them to Noida.
"At around 3 pm on Sunday, another friend Vikas Chandra Nayak, who also lives in Ranchi, asked his parents in Bokaro to lend their car to me, and I started my journey with Sachin's brother," said Rai.
After driving continuously for 15 hours, he reached Noida at around 5:30 pm. The oxygen cylinder on which Sachin was put on was about to get over, and he arrived at the right moment.
"Immediately, the cylinder was changed, and over the period of time Sachin started recovering and is said to be out of danger now," said Rai, who is still staying in Noida to look after his friend.
"We were already in shock after the loss of another common friend Sanjeev Suman who died of COVID-19 recently. And even the thought of losing another friend with whom I had spent most of my life was beyond imagination. Hence, I decided to drive to Noida even without informing my parents in Bokaro," added Rai.
Rajan claimed that he is alive only because of his friend as he turned out to be a saviour for him.
"I am alive today just because of Devendra. Had he not came with the oxygen cylinders, I would definitely have died. I am proud to have a friend like him," said Rajan.