By Anas Khwaja
Rahim Baksh was the caretaker of the Dhaka Nawab Family graveyard in Begum Bazar. His primary duty as an undertaker was supervising grave digging along with arranging bamboo, mat and other necessary items for the grave. Be it a rainy day or a wintry night, he always prepared the grave before the dead body’s arrival from Nawab Bari Masjid. All he needed was Motawalli’s instruction sanctioning the land.
His other duties were to mow grass and shrubs, watering trees, arrange for moulvi to recite quran by the grave on request. He also soiled the sinking graves after heavy rain. During sacred nights like Shab e Qadr/Barat/Meraj he lit the entire cemetery and spent busy time answering visitor queries.
His most challenging job was to maintain peace and serenity of the burial ground. In the 80’s due to lack of maintenance, surrounding boundary walls partially crumbled. This invited trespassers. Such as children toppling graves for falling kites, youngsters passed idle evening playing cards on the graves. Rahim Baksh tried his level best to chase away these outsiders.
He received nominal monthly stipend from the Dhaka Nawab Estate. Incoming visitor’s generosity in religious holidays took him a long way. He also got bakhsish for arranging grave from the deceased’s relatives.
Rahim Baksh’s family lives in the same neighborhood in a house behind the mazar of Elai Bom (Abdur Rahman). His father Fakirah was also the caretaker of the kabarastan and now his son and a nephew are carrying on the service. Three generations of the same family have dedicated their lives to serve the Dhaka Nawab family.
The short guy in white lungi and mouth filled with paan helped lay many of our dear ones. Today he himself is sleeping there with our beloved ones. May Allah bless his soul.