Chennai Ambulance Drivers Take Mizoram Youth’s Body Home
They set out on their 3,200-kilometre-long trip around midnight on 24 April.
“The welcome that we were given and the hospitality of the people of Mizoram is something neither of us can ever forget in our lives. We have never been treated this special before either.”
These are the words of Chinnathambi who, with his friend, drove an ambulance from Chennai to Mizoram to hand over the mortal remains of a Mizo youth who had passed away in Chennai.
Vivian Lalremsanga, a 28-year-old hotel management graduate, was found dead due to a heart attack in his room in Chennai on 23 April.
“We got to know about this from the police and we circulated his photo to ascertain his identity. Once that was done, we contacted his family in Mizoram, who asked if it was possible for us to send his remains over to Mizoram somehow,” says Michael Lalrinkima, General Secretary of the Chennai Mizo Welfare Association.
Fortunately for Michael and his friends, they bumped into a few ambulance drivers in front of the morgue at the Government Royapettah Hospital in the city. Michael asked them if it was possible to transport Vivian’s body.
“We were actually looking for flight options, but none was scheduled at that point in time. So we asked the ambulance drivers if they could help us find someone who can drive till Mizoram and they said they would help us,” he recollects.
However, for Nandakumar, who runs the Annai Kasturi Ambulance Service, it was a routine call. “I received a call on 24 April about the death and the need for an ambulance to take the body to Mizoram. We usually do long distances and have even driven down till Assam, but we have not gone till Mizoram. One of our most experienced drivers Jeyendiran volunteered to drive to Mizoram and back,” he says.
Jeyendiran, 41, and another driver, 52-year-old Chinnathambi, set out on their 3,200-kilometre-long trip around midnight on 24 April. They were joined by Rafael, Vivian’s friend from Mizoram, who lives in Chennai.
“We have undertaken many similar trips. In fact, the trip before this was to West Bengal. But we have never gone to Mizoram. It was an unforgettable experience for us,” Chinnathambi shares with TNM even as the ambulance is on its way back to Chennai.
Jeyendiran, who hails from near Kumbakonam in Thanjavur, has been working as an ambulance driver for over 20 years, while Chinnathambi has been with this firm for over 13 years now.
The journey was made smooth since all the required papers and documents were in place. The district collector of Chennai had reportedly informed the authorities of the states enroute so that the ambulance’s journey is hassle-free.
The last 500 kilometres of the journey was tedious, narrates Chinnathambi.
“We had to traverse through hilly regions and hence drove slower on those roads. But for that, the journey was smooth. We have done this service numerous times before, but this time it felt special because the situation is abnormal and the people in Mizoram were really kind,” he recollects.
They reached Model Veng in Aizawl to handover Vivian’s body to his kin around 4 am on 27 April. The duo were taken to a government guest house in Mizoram where they refreshed themselves.
They were felicitated by Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga and senior IAS and IPS officers during their time at Aizawl.
After a short rest, the duo started back to Chennai the same day.
“We are taking proper breaks on our return journey, hence the delay in reaching Chennai. It is a privilege to do this work, especially at a time when the situation is so bad around us,” Chinnathambi says.
(Published in an arrangement with The News Minute)
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