On the morning of March 24, the day the nationwide lockdown was introduced, Akhil Chandok*, 40, suffered a large coronary heart assault and was rushed to Delhi’s Batra hospital. “Initially, no one would attend to him because they all thought he was a COVID patient, and they kept insisting that he be taken to the COVID ward,” says Chandok’s brother-in-law, Lakshman Dhingra*, who runs a grocery retailer in Chittaranjan Park. When the household insisted that he had no signs of the virus, one of many medical doctors lastly checked him and pronounced him lifeless. A demise certificates was denied till the household agreed to a put up mortem.
Chandok’s spouse, although, didn’t need his physique to be desecrated till his dad and mom had come. Since they lived in Rohru, Himachal Pradesh, they’d no selection however to wait. Chandok’s dad and mom, nevertheless, have been stopped in Chandigarh. Dhingra then determined to take his brother-in-law’s physique up to Rohru for the last rites.
“Since we couldn’t get hold of a hearse, we hired an ambulance and drove it 500 km up to Rohru. Not a single dhaba or eatery was open along the entire way,” says Dhingra. Since the lockdown didn’t allow giant gatherings, solely about 20 individuals got here for the ceremonies. Dhingra and his spouse returned to Delhi in the identical ambulance with a letter from the village panchayat which might come in useful at state borders. “Death is an interminable tragedy in every circumstance, but worse is having to rush through the last rites, and not perform ceremonies that are integral not just to the mourning process but also to ensure that the final journey of a family member is in accordance with tradition,” says Dhingra. “Rituals are a big part of what defines us, especially when it bears the stamp of the finality that death summons.” As he offers with a sister’s inconsolable grief, he additionally waits for the demise certificates to come by means of.
(*Names modified on request)