City Landmark – Christian Cemetery, Civil Lines, Gurgaon
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
A graveyard is like a poetry collection. Each grave is a poem, full of sweet and sad feelings, and each grave endures as the final souvenir of a concluded life. Delhi has scores of cemeteries: Nicholson Cemetery near Kashmere Gate, Dilli Gate Qabristan near ITO traffic light, a Jewish graveyard near Khan Market, and a Parsi cemetery next to that same Jewish graveyard.
The Christian cemetery here in Gurgaon’s Civil Lines is small, only as large as any sarkari bungalow in the area, and yet you may easily spend an entire day here, studying all these graves one after another in slow succession. An immersive reading of the epitaph brings one close not only to the person buried beneath the inscribed stone, but also to those who must have felt the loss.
The grave beside the entrance is home to Patras Sukhdev who “lived and died in faith.” Shrin Sen’s tombstone offers heartwarming consolation, urging the mourner to “say not in grief he is no more but live in thankfulness that he was.” Pritilata David, “a lady kind and giving”, has her grave strewn with fallen leaves. Indeed, the whole cemetery seems a panorama of leaves, grass, trees and stones.
The grave dated 1854 has its words grown so faded by the long passage of so many seasons that it is impossible to decipher the person’s name. A nearby grave is more recent, and is holding on to a condolence card—it is equally possible that the card drifted towards this grave from some other grave. A more elaborate grave than many others is sheltered under a blue glass roof. It belongs to “beloved daughter” Yashica Shah ‘Neelu’. She died young—-1977-2011.
Outside the gates, a fruit hawker is rearranging apples on his cart. A man is praying at a makeshift Ganesh pandal. A street-side tailor is mending a red blouse on his push-pedal sewing machine. A driver is watching a violent news video beside his parked cab. Life is going on.