For someone who has lifted 295 kg without breaking a sweat, famed powerlifter Mohammed Azmathulla feels the pain of carrying the bodies of COVID-19 victims, as he goes about giving a dignified burial to them.
"The pain I experience while carrying the body of someone who has died due to coronavirus can't be explained," the champion powerlifter said.
As coronavirus now carries a stigma borne out of public fear, many people avoid touching victims' bodies, protest against their cremation or burial in the vicinity and look at the relatives of the dead with fear.
Mr Azmathulla, fondly called Azmat, has taken up the task of giving a dignified burial to coronavirus victims and has associated himself with the Mercy Mission for the purpose.
A programme manager in DXC Technology, an IT firm, Mr Azmat works for five days and reserves the weekends for this social cause.
He said he has rostered himself for this work on Saturdays and Sundays.
"I was part of the drive for relief work during the lockdown and when I saw people dying in huge numbers in July, I decided to associate myself with the Mercy Mission," Mr Azmat told PTI.
The challenge those at Mercy Mission face is that the last rites is a time-consuming process, right from the procedures involved at the hospital and at burial grounds.
Besides, volunteers also have to confront protests, which further delays the procedure.
The deaths due to COVID are rising but that has not scared the powerlifter.
"Death is certain, so there is no need to be bothered much about it. But I do take the utmost precautions, which is multi-layered because I too have a family," Mr Azmat said.
About coronavirus, he said almost 90 per cent of those who died due to the pandemic and those he had buried were those who had never ventured out of their houses.
"If you have to get the disease, you will certainly get it even if you have caged yourself in the house. I have seen young people in their twenties without any comorbidities dying of coronavirus and also seen elderly people with co-morbidities escaping from it. It''s a very tricky disease," Mr Azmat added.