THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Several families who lost their dear ones to COVID-19 and other illnesses abroad are going through a harrowing time with most of them unable to bring mortal remains back to Kerala. With only cargo flights operational, family members in West Asia are unable to accompany the body either.
Pathanamthitta MP Anto Antony recalled to TNIE how the mortal remains of Jeuel G Jomay, a 15-year-old boy, was laid to rest at his ancestral church at Mallassery even as his younger brothers and parents stayed back in Dubai. The MP said watching the funeral was heartbreaking, as it was an untimely demise of a young and bright child.
“It is true that lockdown and social distancing have to be enforced. But when it comes to such tragic circumstances, it is heartbreaking to see the agony of family members. Over the past two weeks, Pathanamthitta district has witnessed a lot of corpses being sent from West Asia,” he said.
Jeuel, a Grade X student of Gems Millenium School in Sharjah, died of osteosarcoma to his left leg on April 10. Keen to see their eldest son getting a decent burial at Mallassery, parents Jomay George and Jensin ran from pillar to post seeking permission for at least the father to accompany the body. Jeuel's cousin sister said they had to see the funeral on Facebook live, which was heartrending.
“It wasn't easy to see him go alone," the cousin told TNIE from Dubai.
"Jeuel died on Good Friday and his body was sent to Kerala by a cargo flight on April 15 after completing a plethora of procedures, like clearance from the Dubai police and health departments, permission from the Indian Embassy and the Dubai airport authorities, stamping and embalming.”
She said it will be difficult for the family to travel together with uncertainties remaining as to when airline services would resume operations.
“Even if we are able to go, it is doubtful whether we would be able to return to Dubai due to the pandemic,” she said.
It is not a one-off incident. Jacob Thomas, a businessman and social worker based in Kuwait since 1984, said the mortal remains of several expatriates are in queue to be sent back to Kerala.
“Usually, mortal remains are carried on passenger flights," Jacob Thomas said.
"Only under exceptional circumstances, like Covid-19, have the respective governments permitted sending them on cargo flights. Over the past few days, there have been lots of suicides due to job termination by various private firms in Kuwait.”