No last rites

India is a true democracy. What that means is that the government, bureaucrats and the system in general can do as it pleases. So what if you pay taxes. By no means does it mandate the government to do as it is supposed to. No hospitals, no doctors, no roads, no bridges, no schools, no security, no sewage, no water, no electricity, no houses, no food, no toilets, no nothing. This leaves millions of Indians with no self respect, no dignity, no livelihood, no future, no hope and obviously no tangible rights.

I recently attended a funeral of a friend. In Pune. The system ensures that in death too you have no last ‘rites’ whatsoever.

The family was obviously shocked by the sudden death of their young daughter.

Due to the circumstances around the death, her body had to be taken by the police as soon as it was found. The police conducted an autopsy the same day. The body was then stored at the Pune morgue. The girl’s father was not in India. The family asked if the body could be held for 2 days until the father returned. The police denied the request. There was no electricity in the morgue. The cold storage did no work. The body was being kept on ice. They could hold it for one more day at best.

While immediately family and close friends mourned and came to terms with the shock, extended family and other friends began preparations for the funeral. After about 3-4 hours of running about between the morgue and the police station and the cremation ground, the family was called to the hospital/morgue premises.

The fiancé was not in Pune on the day of the death and he arrived only a few minutes before everyone left for the morgue. The police said they were required to take a statement from the fiancé.

The statement was taken under a banyan tree near the morgue. While he weeped profusely and gave his statement a group of men hung around watching what is happening.

After about 6 hours (literally) of paperwork, statements, chalans, reports, verifications, procedures, payments and bribes the body was finally released and taken to the cemetery.

The body, friends and family reached the cemetery. A priest had been 'booked' earlier in the day. All the items he requested had been purchased. The priest did not arrive at the appointed time. About 20 minutes later a car drives by and a tall man with shades, jeans and a white bush-shirt gets off and starts talking loudly to some people nearby. The party's attention is diverted for a bit. This noise is louder than the men working on a pavement nearby, a radio in the background and stray dogs barking about.

Some calm, then back to the panic of locating the priest. A good 30 minutes late, the priest (shades man from the car) arrives topless in a dhoti with his cell phone at waist.

The final ceremony is at last conducted. This is not the way. Do we have any shame as a society left whatsoever?

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