24 November, 2020

A Town Offers Its Shoulder

Mangalore’s requiem for the crash victims plays out in heartfelt, selfless help for relatives of the dead

Nilotpal Baruah
A Town Offers Its Shoulder

Does it take a tragedy to unite a town? It appeared so, in the aftermath of the Air India Express plane crash that took the lives of 158 people on May 22—when an army of locals trooped in to clear the debris and pull out the bodies at Bajpe; when benevolent taxi-drivers readily ferried people from one mortuary to another; when relatives drew courage from total strangers to pull aside the shroud on their dead; when they broke down on the shoulders of volunteers, not knowing how to begin identifying the charred bodies. Even when relatives from two different communities lay claim to a single body, Mangalore seemed to be putting behind its recent history of communal frenzy. The October 2006 riots, the September 2008 church attacks, the January 2009 pub attack and many other incidents in between and after seemed a distant memory.

Here’s an account of three funerals from among the many on May 23. They demonstrate how ubiquitous grief held people together and propelled a new wisdom across the city.

St John Baptist...



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