Coming forward for last rites when no one would
Once a person dies, all that remains is the body, which should be beyond any discrimination or stigma.
Family members and near ones come together to arrange the last rites of the deceased.
Yet, one may often wonder why that is not the case at times.
The outbreak of coronavirus has made it apparent that there is no respite even in death for those who suffered from the disease.
There have been many instances where people were protesting against burying the Covid-19 victims at graveyards in their neighbourhoods, or body of the deceased was left without anyone to arrange for the cremation for those who belong to the Hindu community.
Even families and relatives are often scared to go near the body of the dead.
Fortunately, there remain some who triumph over stigma with their humanity, like Maksudul Alam Khandaker Khorshed, councilor of Ward 13 in Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC).
Khorshed has been arranging for all measures to perform the last rites of anyone dying from Covid-19, irrespective of their religion, when their families face trouble over the funeral.
"After my father died with coronavirus-like symptoms, none of our relatives or any neighbours came forward for my father's cremation. We were helpless," said Nioti Rani Banik, a residence of Amlapara area in Narayanganj city.
"Finding no way, we made a phone call to Khorshed bhai. He arranged everything and completed my father's funeral," Nioti told The Daily Star.
Her father Kailash Banik, 60, died on April 19.
Another resident of Deobhog area of the city died of Covid-19 on the same day at a hospital in Dhaka.
"My father's body was taken to Masdair crematorium in Narayanganj. But none of our relatives and neighbours came. I was alone with the body to perform the last rites," said the son of the deceased.
"Then, I called Khorshed uncle (the councilor). He rushed to the crematorium and helped me complete my father's funeral," he added.
Khorshed also helped many Muslim families bury their near and dear ones who had succumbed to the virus or with similar symptoms.
Three members of a Muslim family died of Covid-19 between April 15 and April 24 at Amlapara area.
"My aunt, uncle and cousin died of Covid-19. No one even came to join their namaz-e-janaza. Finally, Khorshed bhai came and joined the janaza and helped with the burials," said a member of that family.
Talking to The Daily Star, Khorshed, also president of Narayanganj city unit of Jubo Dal, said, "As a human being, it should be our duty to help other people in their troubles. I'm just performing my duties."
"My family members also encourage me," he said, adding that he is living in a separate room at his house so that none of his family members comes in physical contact with him.
Khorshed said that he had arranged last rites of 31 persons between April 8 and April 25. Of them, 26 were Muslims and five Hindus.
"We are worried. But we do not discourage him (Khorshed) because we think the Almighty will save us if we can do something for the welfare of others," said Afroza Khandaker Runa, Khorshed's wife.
With a team of 23 volunteers, Khorshed has also provided 60,000 hand sanitisers and other relief materials among the poor and distributed some 20,000 leaflets among the city-dwellers to raise awareness among them regarding the outbreak.
Contacted, NCC Mayor Selina Hayat Ivy said, "On behalf of the city corporation, I always extend cooperation to Khorshed as he is performing a great duty. I wish he will continue his work for the welfare of people."