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Auto-rickshaw driver takes humanity to new heights, disposes claimed/unclaimed bodies

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Bhubaneshwar: An auto-rickshaw driver, also a school dropout, took humanity and service to society on a whole new level by disposing of claimed and unclaimed bodies; living his life on the motto “Service to mankind is service to God”.

Meet Pradeep Kumar Prusty, the unknown friend of the dead, who has made it his life’s mission to ensure they get a dignified burial. He is always the first to come forward to recover or collect corpses found along the railway tracks, roads and bodies hanging from trees in this Odisha capital and on its outskirts.

Prusty, 40, is always there for the police to collect the bodies and take them to the mortuary for identification and autopsy.

“When I was in school, I used to visit the municipality hospital nearby my school to get digestive tablets as they tasted sweet. I would see the agony of the family members who could not dispose of the bodies of their near and dear due to lack of money. That inspired me to help these poor people,” Prusty, who has studied till the ninth grade, told reporters.

Hailing from Bhubaneswar’s Bhimtangi neighborhood, Prusty has disposed off 600-700 claimed and unclaimed bodies since 2009, when he started the noble service.

He is called every time a claimed or unclaimed body is found in the city. Believing in humanity, he never hesitates to collect corpses found on tracks or an unclaimed decomposed body. He is there at a call to extend his helping hand to the police.

His job, however, does not end there. He is with a mission “to ensure the dignity of the dead.” He provides all possible help to people who need help to perform the last rites and the cremation of their loved ones.

“I earn about Rs 7000 to Rs 8000 monthly by driving an auto-rickshaw in the city. I spend half of the money for collection and cremation of the bodies and another half for the family,” said Prusty, who has a son and a daughter. While his son is studying in Class 8, his daughter is in Class 12. His wife is a homemaker.

He said when he falls short of money, he collects funds from the people to dispose of the corpses, adding that about Rs 2000 is required for the cremation of dead bodies.

Irrespective of the jurisdiction of the administration and class, creed, caste, class or colour, he is always there in the true letter and spirit of a good Samaritan.

And, he never demands anything in return.

Much prior to the state government’s free ambulance service, Prusty started one in 2007.

“I sold off my ambulance after it broke down. I had no money to repair it. So, I had no option but to sell it off,” said the good Samaritan.

Not surprisingly, his social work has earned him much felicitation and awards of appreciation from many organizations. (Chinmaya Dehury, IANS)

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Artist Renuka Rajiv Takes on Society, Gender Through Personal Narrative

Rajiv, who narrates not verbally but visually, says the "need for the visual arises from a need to communicate, but this need to communicate remains outside the realm of verbal languages."

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Rajiv described the prints as a "cathartic series" made while living in Melbourne. Flickr Commons

Exhibiting the interplay between words and visuals, a solo show by artist Renuka Rajiv critically chronicles and comments on matters of sexuality, gender, physicality and notions of family and relationships via personal narratives.

“The Future Is Not My Gender” is a multidisciplinary exhibition, showing different renditions of fabric and paper using drawings, paper mache, tie-dye and embroidery.

It is on at the Vahdera Art Gallery here till August 18.

It includes a large body of textile and embroidery works, sculptures, and twenty four monotypes selected from a larger series of three hundred prints.

The fabric works are mostly made with old garments of the artist’s family and friends.

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“The Future Is Not My Gender” is a multidisciplinary exhibition. Flickr Common

“This is a moment in a long-term exploration of expressing the aspects of my reality that are outside the material world,” the Bengaluru-based artist said about the exhibition.

Rajiv described the prints as a “cathartic series” made while living in Melbourne.

Some drawings also weave visuals with verbal interjections — sharp observations around gender and sexuality within the larger social context.

“With a strong inclination towards the spontaneously created “hand-made” works, the exhibition accommodates the imaginative, observational and autobiographical,” Vahdera Art Gallery said in a statement.

Rajiv, who narrates not verbally but visually, says the “need for the visual arises from a need to communicate, but this need to communicate remains outside the realm of verbal languages”.

Also Read: US Painted in New Colours By a Refugee Artist

Rajiv was the recipient of the Emerging Artist Award (EAA) 2016, awarded by the Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art (FICA) in collaboration with Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Arts Council.

The exhibition is a culmination of the award process including a three-month residency in Switzerland in 2017. (IANS)