The Last Fire

    1947
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              I could see black smoke fill the air behind a building , and for a moment I assumed that the building caught fire . later I realized that was the crematorium . where the corpses were burnt . everything fine , but I was quite surprised to see a woman working there, which is quite unusual

              This article is about that lady ,She is a Christian and is 53 years old, and she started with this work  around 10 years back. When she started with it , it was not so pleasant for her , her husband’s relatives were not supportive of doing this work. She  educated both her children all by herself. Her husband has not been with her for the past 18 years. Her income for this work depends on the dead bodies that come to the crematorium.on an average she earns Rs.500 a day.

              her job is a not limited to a caste or race.  after breathing their last be it the rich or poor , she handles the dead. there were times when she had to carry out the funeral for foreigners as well.

              Before  this job,she worked as a construction laborer and also a midwife. She was doing that for quite sometime. as a midwife, she got an income of Rs 6000 per 28 days. A crematorium is not really a happy place and although women are not expressly banned from attending, they have always been discouraged from being present.The explanation often has been that it is for their own wellbeing – since women are “softer and weaker” and may be traumatized by the death rituals.

              Not everyone was okay with a woman working here. Some teased her, some passed filthy remarks. Some even questioned what type of a woman would come and work here. They said it must have been because of her previous life’s sin that she worked there , hurting her. Then there were people who were dependent on the cremation ground for their living.

              the cremation ground is a sad but a special place , you don’t keep visiting it very often. It is a place for the relatives to spend the last moments with their loved ones. to some, it signifies peace to some trauma and to some terrible anguish , in the midst of such mixed emotions she works everyday. Her unusual career choice did surprise her family. She got very much used to the work and she has nothing to complain about.

    “Every time there was a cremation, I would also cry with the mourners. It took me a lot of time to overcome that, to not cry when I saw other people crying.”she said There’s nothing after death, that’s what I understand, so be happy, enjoy what you’re doing and do something good while you’re alive. “she said

     I wish this article spoke to someone out there , just to remind us how fortunate our lives are , and how easy they get going .

             Krishna Gopika N R.