Seventy years old Choti Bai lives in a Hindu crematorium. For the last two years, she spends her days and nights taking care of the place and the dead bodies. As per Hindu rituals, fire is the ultimate destiny for the people who pass away. Choti Bai helps the families to make the arrangements for the last rituals and after that, she clears the ashes as well.
"The crematorium where she lives is situated in the central Indian State of Madhya Pradesh. In the village of Nakatua of Narsinghpur District, this crematorium is called 'Mukti Dham'.
Before Choti Bai, her elder sister Kaushalya Bai was the main caretaker of this place. She looked after the place for 25 years. Kaushalya took the charge from her dying husband. Choti Bai remembers, "Before passing away, my sister requested me to carry the family tradition. She wanted me to take the charge of the place. She asked me to take care of the Mukti Dham. I am just keeping my words."
Rakesh Singh, who is a local farmer tells, "As far as we know, Kaushalya Bai was the first woman of the district to live in a crematorium. Maybe the first in our state of Madya Pradesh. I have never heard of any other women living in a crematorium."
"A lot of Efforts"
Mukti Dham has an open ground to cremate the corpora. Most of the time its air remains chocked with the Fire Smoke of the burning dead bodies. There is a room built in this campus where Choti Bai lives with her son and daughter in law. She has around two kgs of wheat flour, old plastic boxes and, some beddings, few small utensils to call household items.
Nineteen years old Sonam Sunil Thakur lives nearby in the village. She tells, "Choti Bai' elder sister put a lot of efforts to maintain the crematorium. She completely changed it from how it used to look. She planted many plants and trees here. She used to grow flowers in the Mukti Dham. She kept doing this until her last breath."
"Why Should I be Scared?"
At the age of 70, Choti Bai is following the steps of her elder sister.
When Gaon Connection Reporter Neetu Singh Asks her, "Don't you feel scared in to live this crematorium?"
With utmost calm and composed manner, Choti Devi Says, "I don't feel scared at all here. In fact, I feel relaxed. I am used to of it now. By taking care of the crematorium I am able to arrange for my bread and butter. And when my sister spent her life here so I why should I be sacred"