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Praveen Sharma, 26, (name changed on request) remembers his 57-year-old father’s last wish. It was to shave off his stubble. “My father was always clean shaven,” says Sharma from a quarantine centre in Howrah where he has been with his mother and sister since April 12. “He kept running his fingers through it and whispered that it was itchy. I had promised to shave it off once he returned from the hospital.” It wasn’t to be. Sharma’s father died of COVID-19 on April 14. He doesn’t know where his father was cremated. “My uncle and cousins were called to clear off the bills and from a distance they watched a couple of men in PPE (personal protective equipment) take the plastic-wrapped body away,” he says. “I don’t even know if they bathed him and made him wear new clothes for his last journey.”

The last journey now is a terribly lonely one for families. Death in the time of COVID-19 has necessitated that

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