Life, death and beyond: This 65-year-old has been clearing dead bodies from Erode's train tracks for 40 years
Most people take up jobs that would give them financial stability. Some choose a job because they were told to, while a few others take up something that they like in order to excel in it.
ERODE: Most people take up jobs that would give them financial stability. Some choose a job because they were told to, while a few others take up something that they like in order to excel in it. Only a gifted few can perform the hardest of jobs without expecting anything in return. Here’s Ganesan, one such person known for performing arguably one of the toughest jobs on the face of earth - clearing dead bodies from railway tracks.
The 65-year-old from Tiruchy has been at it for the past 40 years and is a familiar face at Erode Railway Station. He is well known among police, shopkeepers, auto drivers and other workers at the railway station for his commitment towards work and his kind-hearted nature. One of the Railway Childline members said, people usually look down upon persons who do such menial jobs and are also suspected of indulging in theft activities. “But Ganesan ‘thatha’ has broken that stereotype and a lot can be learnt from him. Despite the nature of the work that he does, he is very dedicated and is there to help at any time of the day,” he stated.
When TNIE spoke with Ganesan, he said, “I travelled to many towns in search of jobs. I even worked as a daily wage labourer – lifting loads and parcels. However, I did not have a regular income. That is when a police officer offered me this job and I instantly said yes,” he said.
Work and life
“When a body is found on tracks, I immediately get a call. I rush to the spot, collect the body, pack it in a zipper and load it onto the ambulance so that it can be taken to the government hospital. I have carried bodies on my shoulders for three to four km on the tracks. Earlier, when there was no ambulance facility, I used to shift bodies to the hospital on pushcart myself,” he said. “I recover more than 200 bodies a year. I am used to blood stains and dead bodies’ reek on my shirt. They stay on for days even after washing, but I put up with it,” Ganesan said.
The sexagenarian does not demand money. Rather, when he is done with work, police officers pay him Rs 200-500 using which he buys food and sometimes liquor.“I did not resort to begging as I wanted to earn my living by being productive,” he added.
Officers of Government Railway Police are all praise for him. One of them said he is very loyal and has never stolen anything from dead bodies nor has he damaged anything on the railway premises.
“He has been very supportive to the department and yet has not demanded anything. We sometimes buy him food,” said an officer. Ganesan’s parents died at an early age and his only sister was also married off. Her children have taken the 45 cent land he owned.
“I have never felt bad for not getting married or having a family. The railway station has been my home. The auto drivers, police officers and shopkeepers take good care of me,” said Ganesan. When there is no body to recover, he picks up rags, aluminum, plastic and paper waste and sells them. The ever-energetic man said that he cannot differentiate between life and death any more.
“That is because death has been a part of my work life. I will continue to work till my last breath. One day when I die, there will be someone who will carry my body,” said Ganesan with a smile.