Drums announce the arrival of the first corpse at the cremation and burial ground in Otteri, Chennai. As the procession moves towards the cremation hall in the 14-acre complex, a lady on a two-wheeler arrives at the large smoke-stained hall that houses the cremation chamber. She checks if the furnace has attained its optimum temperature The son of the deceased lights a camphor on his father’s chest before the body is thrust into the fire.
Thus begins another working day for Esther Shanthi, the supervisor of Chennai’s second-largest burial and cremation ground in a locality notorious for high crime rates. For the past five years, the 40-year-old mother of three has been skilfully managing the facility.