EDUCATIONEVENTSMUSICPRINTINGPUBLISHINGPUBLICATIONSRADIOTELEVISIONWELFARECAREER
INDIA TODAY - The most widely read newsweekly in South Asia.
CURRENT ISSUE  
ARCHIVE  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

INDIA TODAY - The most widely read newsweekly in South Asia.
    CURRENT ISSUE OCTOBER 24, 2005
 
   OFFTRACK: CHENNAI
 
Comfort Six Feet Under

Frankpet Fernandez is on a mission to ensure that the deceased are given a proper burial space
 
  PICTURE SPEAK
GRAVE CONCERN: Fernandez and his son Mark

It's ironic really. There is literally no breathing space in the 200-year-old, 24-acre Kilpauk Cemetery in Chennai. Dilapidated tombstones ridden with untamed cactii and strewn with weather-worn souls-it is like a wasteland. But if you stroll further inside and listen to the cemetery trees, you are in for a welcome relief. In a small picket-fenced corner, a century-old tree's shadow falls like a huge hat on a patch of manicured grass. Well-maintained graves, encircled by neat rows of flowers, rest in picture-perfect peace. Frankpet Fernandez, retired builder and social do-gooder and the man behind this space, is on a mission to ensure that the deceased have a cosy resting place six feet under.

An endeavour that has consumed over two decades of his life, Fernandez says, "It started when a friend told me about his fear of death because of the dismal condition of the cemeteries." In an attempt to tackle this problem, Fernandez called upon the Madras Cemeteries Association (MCA). "I asked for land at the Kilpauk Cemetery but they were not convinced about my idea," he explains. After countless discussions and much paperwork, his persistence paid off. "They finally relented to our demands as long as we didn't claim any ownership of the land." The MCA allotted him three grounds spanning 8,000 sq ft in all to create an idyllic burial space. With this vital resource at his disposal, Fernandez put his experience as a builder to immediate use. Spending over Rs 20 lakh from his own pocket, he laid out a cemetery where even angels will love to tread. "The main cemetery rejected our plan to create a pond," says his son Mark who maintains a colour-coded log book of the 60 people from across the world who have reserved their graves here.

Traditional Christian laws require at least 14 years before opening a family vault for another burial but Fernandez is urging the Government to bring it down to five. "As cemeteries are filling up rapidly, churches must devote 10 per cent of their property for a graveyard," he reasons. His visiting card may say "Citizen of India" but Fernandez is a lone ranger in this kingdom of darkness. For all his private effort for a public cause, he has never been tempted to crave any accolades. In the Gospel there is a notion that if you are doing good for people without them knowing it's you, then it's a higher form of spirituality than doing something to earn their gratitude. It only goes to prove that society has not succeeded in beating the angel out of Fernandez.

Index

INDIA TODAY - The most widely read newsweekly in South Asia.
CURRENT ISSUE
OCTOBER 24, 2005
 IN THIS ISSUE
COVER STORY

India's Disaster

OTHER STORIES
 

What Lies Ahead

First Person

Devastation in Pakistan

Paradise Lost

Seismology

Knot Right

Stumbling Block

The Battle Zone

Protocol Fracas

Assembly Poll

Read the Constitution Please

Crorepati At 60

For Old Age's Sake

Rs 50,000 Crore in 6 Months
Topping It Up
Safe Ground

Jest In Time

The Last Emperor

Gently At The Crease
Polls Apart

Lion In Winter

 

Do you think that the age of 15, a girl is emotionally and physically ready for marriage?
 
South Asia's most influential and most read newsweekly presents the fourth Conclave India Tomorrow 2005 : Perception vs Reality



CONTACTUS SYNDICATIONSSUBSCRIPTIONFAQsPRIVACYPOLICY