Drivers, volunteers complete last rites in Bengaluru | Bengaluru News – Times of India

Hearses lined up outside Harishchandra Ghat electric crematorium in Bengaluru on Wednesday

BENGALURU: Pandemic partings can be heart-rending, especially when a loved one has to make that final journey to the grave alone. Now, families testing positive for the virus and forced to remain indoors are collecting ashes of their dear departed through ambulance drivers and Covid volunteers. Utter helplessness has even forced some to request these workers to immerse the ashes themselves.
Paul Vincent, a drivercum-Covid crisis volunteer, who has ferried over 300 Covid victims and continues to serve in this hour of crisis, says he was reduced to tears after a family from Electronics City requested him to immerse the ashes of their patriarch, who succumbed to the virus a few days ago. “I transported his body to the crematorium and realised no family member was present. I got a call from one of them, saying the entire family tested positive and was forced to remain at home,” recalls the 36-yearold driver, who then completed the last rites.
Again, following a request from the family, he came back the next day to collect the ashes. “I was a bit taken aback when they requested me to immerse the ashes of the old man in a river. Initially, I was hesitant and told them that I’m from a different faith. But they were overwhelmed by the service we offered,” adds Vincent, who then drove out of the city to find a waterbody to immerse the ashes.
Ambulance drivers and volunteers have turned saviours for many such families, where all members are testing positive simultaneously. Apart from transporting bodies, they collect the ashes of Covid victims and go the extra mile to hand them over to the bereaved, who are infected and confined to their homes.
“We have been getting requests from a few families to perform the cremation and bring the ashes home and our volunteers are doing accordingly. It is heartbreaking to know that they can’t even see their deceased family member one last time, as the body arrives directly to the crematorium from the mortuary,” said a volunteer attached to Mercy Angels and working for Covid victims in Bengaluru.

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Sagar Biswas

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