Through his NGO Moksha, Ashish Thakur, a banker from Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, has dedicated half of his life to burying and cremating the abandoned dead with dignity and respect. He discusses how he maintains hope in such a difficult line of work, as well as the lessons he has learned.
(I live and die everyday. I have no expectations from life.)
This line has become a sort of motto for Ashish Thakur, a 42-year-old banker from Jabalpur. A high-flying job and large paychecks have taken a back seat for him. Life’s harsh realities, which he has witnessed for the past 20 years, have humbled him and shifted his perspective.
“Life moves on, what else can I say?” he observes.
Ashish has been burying the abandoned dead with dignity and respect since 1999. The Jabalpur resident never imagined this would be the path he would take for himself, but a harrowing scene he witnessed as he approached adulthood changed him forever.
“When I was in college, I worked part-time as a security supervisor at a government hospital to support my family and my education because we weren’t well-off,” he recalls in an interview with The Better India. “My father was a cop who worked hard to educate my siblings and me, but we needed the extra cash. I was paid Rs 1,000 – Rs 1,200 per month, which was a lot at the time.”
Ashish pointed out that the hospital 20 years ago was different from today. “The situation has changed, but at that time people often saw people holding the bodies of their loved ones, wrapped in white cloth, waiting for burial. They didn’t even have the money to arrange transportation to the cemetery. Parents would hug their dead children and wander around, unable to seek help. ,”He says.
More than 20 years later, Ashish has kept its promise to herself. He runs Moksha, a non-governmental organization dedicated to the burial and incineration of the abandoned dead. In addition, it also provides assistance to poor and elderly people who may be wandering on the road and dying. He brings these people and provides them with medicine, food and shelter. If there is no way to save them, he will perform the final ceremony after their death according to their religious beliefs (if he finds out).
Ashish made certain that he had a steady job throughout. He claims that this was not done to support his own dreams and life. “My requirements are minimal. “All I need is to be able to support this work,” he says.
“I was given numerous opportunities to pursue high-flying dreams, travel abroad, and make a name for myself. But I stayed because I didn’t want to stop doing what I was doing,” he explains. “I could have started my own businesses when I was younger, but I might not have been able to run Moksha.”
What has been Ashish’s most important lesson over the years? “You only get one life. It is up to you to direct it. “You can be Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, or whatever — but when you die, you’re just human,” he says simply.
Original Story: The Better India