THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Women are termed different when they do out-of-the-ordinary deeds. And when they appear on screen, it would be either in the name of bravery, intelligence, adventure or something similar. In city resident Prabha Ajanoor’s documentary ‘A Life for the Demised’, we see one such different woman, Baby. One can categorise her into any of the aforementioned compartments for being ‘extraordinary’ after watching the 19-minute film.
Baby is a woman who is engaged in one of the professions where we can hardly spot a feminine face these days. For more than three decades, the 54-year-old from Pathrakadavu has been engaged in the job of digging graves at the cemetery of Manjumatha church on Vypeen island. Maybe she is the only woman who does this job in the State.
“Of course, the ‘different’ factor was what prompted me to set out to make a documentary on her. At first, I went to her home and we had an informal chat. Without showing any hesitation, she wholeheartedly welcomed our request for filming her life,” Prabha says.
A day-long shoot for the documentary progressed at Vypeen in 2011 at places including her home, the Majumatha church and its cemetery. “Her life appeared almost like a fiction before us. Besides the grave-digging job, the way she engaged herself in cleaning the corpses and treating them was quite astonishing,” Prabha says.
Baby took up the job from her mother Kunjamma, who used to dig graves in the cemetery. She started assisting her at the tender age of 17 and became fully engaged in the job when the mother fell sick. The teenager who trembled with fear watching the mother taking out skeletons later had to witness five to six burials per day and clean up that many corpses.
It was at the age of 44 that Baby got married to Pushkin Antony and the couple do not have children. “The only concern she expressed before us was that there was nobody to continue the job after her. Somebody would replace her. But the question is whether it would be a woman,” the director concludes.