New Delhi, India (BBN)-The children sit in tently, heads buried in their books. The dimming light of the evening does little to deter them from doing their homework.
So does the fact that under the slabs they are sitting lies a body .
For, Bhanupriya, Sindhu, Sabina and Dhanush, studying in class 9, 8, 6 and 4, live in a graveyard, reports The Times of India.
Life, however, is anything but eerie for the four children of Anthonyswamy Kutty, gravedigger and caretaker of Bengaluru’s largest graveyard, Kalpalli Hindu Burial Ground. Bhanupriya dreams of becoming a doctor, Sindhu engineer, Sabina lawyer and Dhanush pilot.
“We are surrounded by nature and we can play freely .We feed and play with dogs and birds here. There is nei ther pollution nor traffic,” says Bhanupriya, the eldest of them.
Kutty says the graveyard is his temple.
The third generation gravedigger at the burial ground, which also houses former President N Sanjeev Reddy’s memorial, has been working here since he was 10 years old.
The BBMP pays him only Rs1,000 a month and it s only when a body is to be buried that Kutty makes some extra money .
His lungs are in bad condition due to continuous inhalation of smoke from the pyres and he says the medication is costly.
At the burial ground on Cemetery Road, Rajaiah, 43, who has a daughter and three sons, including twins Rama and Lakshmana (4), says: “My wife sometimes asks for garments and jewelry and my children ask for gadgets, but I can’t afford them. They eventually understand our condition.” The only things he dreads inside the graveyard are snakes.
Marappa, 50, one of the caretakers at Wilson Garden Hindu Burial Ground spread over 25 acres, has a daughter and four sons. The two youngest sons are named Rajkumar and Puneeth, as the family members are all ardent fans of Dr Rajkumar.
“Within the compound, we get a lot of respect, but the minute we step out, we are looked down upon,” rues Ma rappa, adding: “The dead are our gods and the living the devils.”
At the Ulsoor Hindu Burial Ground on CMH Road, a tall, broad-shouldered man is overseeing the digging of a grave.
K Srinivas, 52, the main caretaker of the grounds, has two daughters who are married and two sons who are working.
Asked whether he feels frightened at night, he says, “The big bad world is outside this gate and that’s what frightens me. In here, I know I am safe amongst the most peaceful beings on earth.”
Talking about a few regrets, he says, “I did not have the money to educate my children enough when they were young. Now, I can afford a basic education for them but they have moved on in life.”
But the peace inside a graveyard too is being disturbed. At the Harishchandra Ghat cemetery near Rajajinagar, a terrible stench lingers in the air.
Reason: a graveyard, a huge garbage dump, and the local BBMP dry-waste collection centre. Narayana C, 52, complains how looking after the place has become a huge challenge.
“We have run out of space now and we have a small area for daily prayers.Almost all of the bodies are now sent to the electric facility or they go to other grounds,” he says.