At the Twenty Four Hour Crematorium

By Linda Casper

In towns like Delhi, to deal with the pandemic at its height
Crematoria work all day and night
Wrapped in shrouds, ready to burn, maybe with flowers draped on top
Bodies of loved ones are brought here non-stop
Covid’s no respecter of creed or caste
Covid is cruel and kills people fast
Little time to say a final goodbye
The family too stunned even to cry

Beneath the night sky, glowing orange from the flames of the pyres
Young Aryan is circling one of the fires
Counter clockwise he walks round the body of his father thrice
From tears and smoke he wipes his smarting eyes
He completes his duties as best he can
A task usually performed by a man
No holy water, a shortage of wood
He sends off his parent as well as he could

He is not alone in this task, there are mourners all around

Rows of pyres and a loud wailing sound
The entire funeral process usually takes many hours
But hundreds wait with corpses and flowers
For Mahaprasthana Aryan does pray
That great journey when the soul flies away
May his soul achieve Moksha and be freed
He hopes his father approved of his deed

Now Aryan must make his way home and think about others
Of the old folk and sisters and brothers
Home is a shack; squalid, overcrowded with no sanitation
Just like millions all over the nation
He knows the virus is easily spread
And, to build more pyres for burning the dead
He’ll have to cut wood from trees in the night
For Aryan to carry out the last rite

Linda Casper hails from Yorkshire and, after a long career as a high school teacher, she began to write and has had short stories, poems and travel articles published. Linda has a keen interest in gardening and is a judge for Yorkshire in Bloom and you can read her eclectic blog at

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Amanda Jones
5 months ago

A great perspective.

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