My Story: I Am 83 Years Old, Have Been Living Happily On Footpath Since Last 60 Years

The Logical Indian

April 8th, 2016

“It’s not everyday that you get to meet people like Mithalal Sindhi. Someone who has dedicated all his life for doing such a great activity that we all fear of. “During partition I came to Bombay from Pakistan with my family. I was just 15 years old and I did many odd jobs to fight poverty and survive in such a big city. Later in the year 1957, I shifted to Ahmedabad and started a small business from my savings. I used to sell fruits in Maninagar area. There was this friend of mine named Nyaldas Sindhi who was a vegetable vendor. We used to have lunch and dinner together and would also sleep together on footpath. This thing continued till two years, until one morning I went to wake him up but he didn’t respond. It took me a while to realize that he was dead. He had no family or friends who could perform his last rites. So I went to the Mukhya (Leader of Vegetable Market) and asked for help, but he refused and said it’s none of my business. No one was ready to take responsibility of his body, so finally I decided to perform his last rites and I cremated him near Calico Mill. Such a sudden death of my friend made me realize that there are countless number of people in this city who die everyday and there is no one to perform their last rites. And since that day I wound up my business and started this activity. It has been 57 years since I am doing this social activity. I have given farewell to around 550 unclaimed dead bodies. The dead body could be from any religion. It could be of a Hindu, Muslim, Jain, Christian. But for me there is only one religion and that is humanity. I don’t believe in any other religion. Whenever a dead body is recovered, the first thing I do is always look for a sign or symbol that indicates dead person’s religion. After I get to know about their religion, I perform the rites accordingly. If the dead person is Hindu, I take him to VS Crematorium, if it’s a Muslim, I take him to Jamalpur and If it’s Christian then I bury them at graveyard. I pull out my pedal rickshaw and take them to crematorium. I also try to find any information related to their family from their mobile or purse. But the bitter truth is that usually families acts as if they don’t know that person and refuses to do their last rites. For society, it might just be an unclaimed dead body, but for me if it’s an aged woman, than she is like my mother, if it’s a young boy then he is like my son, if it’s a middle aged women, then she is like my younger sister. I couldn’t perform the last rites of my own father but I don’t feel sad about it. For me all those who died are my family in some way or the other. I have one son and three daughters. They run a roadside fast food restaurant. They also have a house, but I don’t stay with them. I live on Footpath, because this is the only place where people will always find me whenever I am needed. I didn’t even take any share in my ancestral property because I have never been interested in materialistic things. The only thing I require is my pedal rickshaw. Today it costs around 1500 rupees to perform the last rites of any person. I incur all the expenses from my earnings by selling Bajra on Footpath near Ellis Bridge. I am 83 years old, have been living on Footpath since last 60 years and believe me I am satisfied with what life has given to me. I have been sent on earth by God to perform this beautiful activity. This city remembers me whenever an unclaimed dead body is found and I am happy about it.” Submitted By – Pray Bavishi

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