Walking through a crematorium could be really tough for a human being. The crematorium air carries a heavy-heart feeling. And, this is the only place where no one will come by choice. But is it true for everyone of us? I don’t think so. There are many such people among us who go there by choice and do all the needful duties in spite of being marginalized from the so called civilized society.
I visited Keoratala crematorium in Kolkata while I was working on my book, Dead People Does not have any Privacy. I wanted to meet people who work there and to explore the place more. But while talking to the people there, I came across many things, that, otherwise would remain ‘unsaid’ . Our conversations revealed several things that were new to me. I was curious to know how these dead bodies affected people at the crematorium. I realized that they were habituated to deal with the bodies on everyday basis and the dead bodies become non-living objects for them. They spoke about history of the place, the work they do, and how their identity distinguishes them from the so-called civilized society. They also shared their daily routine activities and information about their families. What struck me was the complete unawareness about this community working at crematorium in our society. They live their lives on the fringes of the society without any receiving respect in the ‘civilised society’.
Raju Mallick at the crematorium told me that they do not have any emotions left within them and everything has dried out from their soul. After hearing such stories, I realized that they also deserve to live a life with all normal aspects but they are bound by their social duties. For some of them the work is their religious duty that they have to do while for others it has become a curse on their lives. After our conversation, I was struck by the strange reality that people who would curse them while they were alive would be burnt by them after they are dead!