N’ganj councillor battles virus, returns to performing last rites of Covid-19 dead
"We have plenty of relatives and are surrounded by neighbours. Yet, when people heard uncle died with coronavirus, no one came to see him. No one even came for the burial. But Councillor Khorshed was there by our side, that too on a night riddled with gusty winds and heavy rain. It is impossible to find another person like him."
This above testimonial is by Nurul Islam, a man who lost his uncle to coronavirus and was unable to find a relative or neighbour by the family's side.
Nurul, from Siddhirganj of Narayanganj, had one person by his side during this crisis.
Maksudul Alam Khandaker Khorshed, councilor of Ward 13 in Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC) also known as "Councillor Khorshed Bhai" to many by now, has been arranging measures to perform the last rites of anyone dying from Covid-19, irrespective of their religion, when their families face trouble over the funeral.
"My chacha was in isolation at Dhaka Medical College Hospital for the last six days after he was diagnosed with coronavirus. He died at 7pm on Friday after he developed breathing complications. The hospital had no facility to give the deceased a last bath because he was coronavirus infected," said Nurul Islam, while recounting the story of his uncle's death and the family's struggle in performing last rites.
"Stumped, I called Councillor Khorshed Bhai and told him everything. He consoled me and assured that he would do everything once the body is brought back (from Dhaka)."
And the councillor did not disappoint. Even as rain pelted down on the city through the night, he showed up to Nurul's residence along with his team.
They did everything -- from performing last rites to burial.
Nurul's uncle happens to be one of 80 people who have had their last rites performed by Councillor Khorshed and his team from April 8 to June 13.
There is no race, religion, caste or gender when it comes to the services of the team.
The Daily Star got in touch with Khorshed. "When I got the call yesterday, I could not manage to gather a big enough team because of heavy rain. So, I headed out with a small group," says Khorshed.
A painful sight greeted the team. The dead body was kept in front of the house and there was no one there save for a handful of relatives.
On May 30, the councillor had tested positive for coronavirus after his wife was found positive on May 22.
Despite his recent bout with the virus, Khorshed went forward with the burial yesterday after completing a period of isolation, first at Square Hospital in Dhaka then later at his home.
Councillor Khorshed is back at his home and continues to serve a crucial role in this pandemic.
With a team of 23 volunteers, Khorshed had earlier 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 regarding the outbreak.