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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 October 2005, 12:44 GMT 13:44 UK
Twenty years with mother's corpse
By Omar Farooq
BBC News, Hyderabad

A man in southern India preserved the corpse of his mother at home for 20 years until his death last week.

Syed Abdul Gafoor, a professor, had the body of his mother, Rahmat Bi, embalmed on her death in their home in the state of Andhra Pradesh in 1985.

He then kept the body in the family home in Kadappa district, until his death after a long illness on Saturday.

Neighbours say Mr Gafoor, was intensely attached to his mother, refusing to bury her according to Muslim customs.

The family has now buried the bodies of mother and son in a local graveyard.

'Eccentric'

After his mother's death, Mr Gafoor, a professor of English literature, had doctors in the southern city of Madras (Chennai) embalm the body with chemicals.

He was so eccentric that he would let anybody to even look at the glass casket in which the body was kept
Syed Noor, relative

Mr Gafoor returned home and kept his mother's embalmed body in a glass case in a room in the family home in Siddavata village, some 450km from the state capital, Hyderabad.

"In the large ancestral home, he lived in one room and the body was kept in another one. He had made it clear to us that the body should be buried only after his death," said Syed Noor, a nephew of Mr Gafoor.

"He was so eccentric that he would not allow anybody to even look at the glass casket in which the body was kept."

A local resident said neighbours were unhappy with what Mr Gafoor did.

"There were several protests. But he remained adamant that the body would remain with him till his last breath," said local revenue officer M Prabhakar Reddy.

Neighbours say that Mr Gafoor divorced his wife six months after their wedding after she had a fight with her mother-in-law.

Villagers said Mr Gafoor would continue to "consult" his mother after she died.

"Before doing anything important, he would write 'yes' or 'no' on two pieces of paper. Then sitting near the embalmed body, he would draw lots and decide," said Syed Noor.

Neighbours said that Mr Gafoor was a "highly respected man of letters".

He had picked up degrees in English literature from Cambridge and Madras universities.

He was head of the department at a college in Tamil Nadu when he took voluntary retirement in 1987 so that he would not have to spend so much time away from his mother's body.


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