Dubai: A Muslim social worker from India is undertaking the last rites of an elderly Hindu man, who died of COVID-19 in Dubai, as the latter’s family has been home quarantined after testing positive for coronavirus.
Well-known Keralite volunteer Naseer Vatanappally, who continues to do his social work after beating COVID-19, came forward to help the Mumbai family as nobody dared to visit them for collecting the documents for the cremation of Ramesh Kalidas Pamani, 77.
Pamani’s son Kiran Kumar told Gulf News that he and his wife Preeti could not step out to complete the procedures for his visiting father’s cremation as they are under home quarantine.
He said his father had come to visit them in February.
“He had diabetes. His blood-sugar levels had gone up as he suffered from urinary infection. On May 11, we had to rush him to Rashid Hospital after he suffered a stroke and kidney failure.
“On May 14, the hospital informed us that he had tested positive for coronavirus. Following this, all of us took tests and me and my wife were found to be positive even without any symptoms, while our eight-year-old daughter tested negative.”
Kumar said the couple self-isolated themselves at home while their daughter was sent to his sister’s house in Al Qusais.
However, the family received the news of Pamani’s death on Tuesday afternoon.
“I didn’t know what to do as we are strictly following the rules of isolation and social distancing. Everyone was scared to come to us or go to the hospital to complete the procedures.”
It was then that Preeti’s employer, K.V. Shamsudheen, the director of Barjeel Geojit Securities and a prominent social worker, connected the family to Vatanappally.
“Since I am old and have pre-existing conditions, I can only help people by coordinating through phone,” said Shamsudheen.
“When I informed Naseer about the case, he was instantly ready to do the needful. In 20 minutes, he reached their house. I was really moved by his benevolent gesture, which takes a lot of courage at this point of time.”
Kumar said he was planning to put his father’s passport in a sanitised bag and keep it outside his apartment, but Vatanappally said he had to take Kumar’s signature on an authorisation letter for cremation as well.
“I didn’t want to risk his safety. I really salute his courage and big heart for going out of his way to help us in this helpless situation,” said Kumar.
“He consoled me and said he would take care of the last rites of my father and keep his ashes safe in the crematorium till the time I can go to India for the remaining rites. I don’t know what I would have done if these two people were not there to help us.”
Though he has been helping several families with repatriation, Vatanappally said this was his first time he was helping out for the last rites of a member, despite the family being here.
“This pandemic has changed many things in life. We cannot blame anybody. People are scared for their lives,” Vatanappally said.
He said he decided to help the grieving family seeing their helplessness.
“I have been seeing the sufferings of patients and their families and I myself have been a patient. If I don’t help now, there is no meaning in my being a social worker. These things are decided by the Almighty. I am happy to assist them.”
Vatanappally was engaged in completing the legal procedures for the cremation of Pamani’s mortal remains at the Jebel Ali crematorium on Wednesday morning.
“In this case, I have to identify the body as the family members cannot come. I am going to the crematorium to make sure everything is done as per their beliefs and I will request them to keep the ashes till the son can receive it,” he said, soon after collecting the death certificate of Pamani.