My dear grandpa Mr. Joe Michael died on 29 April due to old age (88 years) and other infirmities. He was the musical maestro of Ahmedabad and loved by all. In normal circumstances, he would have had a ‘grand funeral’ with many present; however, with the pandemic raging, COVID protocol restricted the number at the Catholic Cemetery for the burial; we were just a few : mainly family members. However, one person who went all out of his way to help us in the burial of my grandpa was Mr. Francis John Lobo from Meghaninagar of Ahmedabad. True he is a close family friend; but the fact is, Francis has been at the beck and call , day and night – to anyone who needs his help. These selfless acts of his are commendable and greatly appreciated.
Francis has a small company of his own ‘Joyce Construction’; when our Catholic Cemetery in the heart of the city, had to undergo repair and renovation work, he was awarded the contract. The renovation works began on 26 January this year – and ever since, together with his labour force he has spent most of his waking hours in the cemetery. He has naturally also been a witness to numerous burials that have taken place in the past four months: a good many of them having succumbed to the pandemic. However, he has not been a mute spectator; he has got involved in the digging of the graves, giving his shoulder to carry the coffin – and above all, the much needed comfort and solace to those who have lost a loved one.
That is not all: Francis is a round-the-clock man; he receives cries for help , SOS calls, all the time: to find a bed in a hospital or an oxygen cylinder; to provide food for someone and even to help cremate a loved one! He never says ‘no’! Francis has been extending all possible help to anyone who needs it during these trying times – willingly and cheerfully and without asking or expecting anything in return.
Francis epitomises that saying “holier are the hands that help” .In the wake of this terrible pandemic, India needs many more Francis’ who are truly ‘ good Samaritans’