It was so heart wrenching to see a funeral like never before.
Yes, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown which is currently in force in whole of India, I got a call at around 8am on 26th March 2020 that one of our flat mate had passed away in the hospital due to prolonged illness which was not relating to the virus and that they were soon going to transport the corpse to his residence in our apartment.
Within no time I could realize the challenge which was unfolding for the day. Immediately I drafted an Obituary notice along with some strict guidelines for the residents to follow while paying their last respects to the gentlemen who passed away. Scrambled for 2 liters of sanitizer, 100 face masks, and 50 gloves to handle the situation. Called the sanitary inspector in our jurisdiction to understand the protocol and the new regulations imposed due to COVID-19. My request to him to sanitize the house and the corridor before they bought the body was executed so promptly without me having to follow-up again. Thanks to the authorities for their help at this critical time.
Everything went according to plan and finally when the corpse arrived at the apartment, it was so saddening to know that there was not a single soul to receive him. Maintenance staff and security personnel were briefed earlier on the procedure and protocol to be followed and also all of them were given appropriate gears for the same. Thanks to the staff who helped the family to take the body to his residence.
When I reached their residence, I could hardly see four or five ladies and probably 5 or 6 men including me who attended the funeral. It was indeed so heart wrenching ….
- To see the wife of the deceased who was all alone because no one could attend the funeral. No relatives or friends could even pay their last respects.
- To see that his last rites could not be done as it would have been formally done if LIFE WAS NORMAL (Pre COVID-19).
- To see when she asked for atleast a small garland to be put on him and we could not find any because no shops were open.
- To see the lady mourn her husband’s death with no one able to console her by even hugging or even holding her hands.
- To see her console their only daughter overseas through a video call who could not travel due to the global restrictions.
Strict instructions of no big gathering, no human contact, sanitizing hands pre and post visit, wearing masks and not staying in the house too long were some rigid rules which made things even more difficult to comprehend.
Last rites were performed with lots of compromise on the rituals and the final farewell was given to him with absolutely no one from the apartment accompanying him on his final journey excepting for the ambulance driver and his assistant. Though a lot of residents would have wanted to attend, the current conditions were not conducive for many. COVID-19 has certainly given a new and certainly an ugly dimension to life which we can never forget for decades and centuries to come.
Reality struck me so hard that I pacified myself at one point that with the current situation, this could be a very decent funeral for this gentlemen and if the current situation deteriorates further, we might not even see a single soul for any such incident.
So let us all hope and pray for a complete recovery of the world from this devastating virus.