Actor Arjun Gowda turns ambulance driver
The actor took the initiative after losing his elderly milk woman to COVID-19
Actor Arjun Gowda has turned an ambulance driver and for the past 10 days, the 27-year-old has been driving COVID-19 patients to hospital and also taking the bodies of victims who succumbed to the disease, to perform their last rites.
The trigger for him was the death of the elderly woman who supplied milk to them every day. She died of Covid and the actor learnt that the hospital had charged Rs 12,000 from her grandson to take her body from the hospital to the crematorium. “This disturbed me a lot,” says Gowda, who has acted in films such as Odeya, Rustum, and Yuvarathnaa.
Gowda then approached Project Smile Trust and volunteered to be a driver. “I’ve known how to drive for a year now, but driving an ambulance is new. With god's grace I picked up fast,” he laughs.
Although the situation is painful, Gowda feels a sense of satisfaction in being able to help people. “A government employee sent his family to their hometown hoping that they would not be at risk. But the man had a wheezing problem and died in his sleep. His neighbours called us as none of his relatives came forward. We took the body to a cremation centre and did the last rites as well. We then made sure the ashes reached his family,” Gowda shares.
A staunch believer of Lord Shiva, Gowda has visited Kashi several times. “I have a lot of friends at Manikarnika Ghat, whom I have assisted during the last rites,” he says, adding that Bengaluru feels like Manikarnika Ghat to him now, “An incinerator takes one-and-a-half an hour to burn a body, and each crematorium has one or maximum of two incinerators. Sometimes, a body taken at 6 am will be burnt by evening 7 pm, and we have to wait till next morning. Until then, we have to arrange for an icebox to keep the body. We have to keep changing PPE suits, which makes the body sweat all over.”
Arjun has isolated himself from his family and has lost track of the Covid tests he has undergone. “Thankfully each time it has been negative,” he says.
As for his family’s response, Gowda says, “I had lied to my mother saying I would stay alone because I was working on a script. But a friend leaked the information, and she found out. Initially, she was shocked and even yelled at me. But I made her understand my decision and she supports me now.”
Based on the experience of the last 10 days, Gowda just has one thing to say to people, “Maintain your health with good food, focus on fitness and think positive.”
Gowda, who is awaiting the release of WoW, in which he plays the lead role, is looking forward to the shooting of his untitled Tamil film in which he will share screen space with Vijay Sethupathi. “I have been approached for films in various languages for different roles, but the lockdown has delayed the process,” he says.