While lighting the tiny brass oil lamp with cloth wicks every morning in the crematorium and waiting for the dead to arrive, Subeena Rahman never thinks of her religion.
With a shawl draped over her head, the Muslim woman in her late twenties knows better than anyone now that death has no religion and everyone is alone and empty-handed on her last trip.
Working as a crematorium keeper at a Hindu crematorium in Irinjalakuda in this central Kerala district for three years, this young undergraduate student said she cremated hundreds of corpses, including those of more than 250 people living with HIV until here.
Even dripping sweat in a PPE kit for hours on end while cremating the bodies of COVID victims back to back during the second wave of the pandemic, she never forgot to pray for deceased souls in her own way without the barrier of religion or belief.
Rahman, who broke gender stereotypes by becoming a creamer, which is generally considered a small job even by men, is considered the first woman from the Muslim community to practice the profession in the southern state.
However, the 28-year-old housewife has the audacity to admit that it is not to break a shield of glass but to earn the daily bread of her family, provide for her husband and take care of her. sick father, who was a lumberjack. .
She also doesn’t hesitate to ask those who oppose her to give her a job and make fun of her for being a crematorium keeper.
The sight of still bodies, eyes closed and cotton stuffed in nostrils, was a nightmare to me like any other child. But corpses don’t scare me anymore, ”Rahman told PTI.
She said she never imagined she would become a crematorium guard because her childhood dream was to become a police officer.
It is fate that I assume this responsibility and I do this work with the greatest sincerity and dedication. I have never felt the slightest regret for choosing this profession because I firmly believe that every job has its own dignity … and I am proud of what I do, ” she said.
Subeena Rahman was desperate for a job when she learned of a vacancy in the SNBS Samajam Mukthisthan crematorium, run by the Ezhavas, a powerful backward Hindu community.
Besides Hindus, the bodies of members of the Christian community are also cremated in the gas crematorium.
Initially, her parents had concerns about the workplace, but she was adamant about taking the job because she knew she had to support her loved ones.
Although there was no visible opposition from anyone, including members of her community, many expressed doubts about whether the Hindu community would accept a Muslim woman as a creamer.
According to Hindu traditions, women are not allowed to visit the cremation site.
Many people have discouraged me by saying that members of the Hindu community would not accept a woman, especially from another religion for work. But no one has raised any objections so far and I have been able to prove to myself that sex and religion are not a barrier to doing any job, ” Rahman said confidently.
The full support given by her husband, a day laborer, and her family and her son Mohammed Irfan, has been a great source of strength.
After completing daily chores at home in the morning, Rahman would rush to the crematorium at 9:30 a.m.
Along with her two male colleagues, she cleaned the premises, removed the remains of the day before cremation and lit the oil lamp, marking the start of the duty in the morning.
There were days when she had to work continuously for 14 hours, especially during the peak of the COVID period.
” We get Rs 500 each per body, which is divided among the three equally. Normally we get 6-7 bodies every day. But, there were days when we had to cremate 12 COVID patients consecutively in one day, ”Rahman recalls.
When asked if she remembered the first cremation she had performed, the young woman reportedly replied without waiting for a second that it was a 65-year-old man named Siddharthan, who died of an insufficiency. cardiac.
The most painful occasion was the cremation of a five-year-old girl who accidentally slipped into a village pond and died.
His father was abroad. He came to see his daughter for the last time in the crematorium wearing a PPE kit. He collapsed when he handed me the body of the little girl to take her to the furnace. I couldn’t control myself then, ” the woman said.
Otherwise, she wouldn’t wear any memories or faces, which she encounters at the crematorium on her way home and engaging in her evening chores at home.
“I am fully aware now that we cannot stop death. It will come to all of us. If we are born, death will surely follow us. There is no escaping it, ” Rahman concluded on a philosophical note.
(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)