The national capital is witnessing an eerie reality: patients running from pillar to post searching for hospital beds, morgues running out of stretchers and the cremation grounds bursting at the seams with funeral pyres.
Back to the wall, people have even utilised parking lots near cremation grounds to give the Covid-stricken some semblance of dignity in their final moments.
Under the high tin roof, 50 funeral pyres burned fiercely on Tuesday, the hot air filled with smoke, fine ash, and muted sobs of shell-shocked famlies.
Nearby, lying unattended on the floor, and in scores of parked vehicles, more corpses awaited their turn, which relatives were told would come 16 to 20 hours later. Shaking Delhi's spirit and soul, an unimaginable tragedy is unfolding at New Delhi's crematoriums struggling to cope with the deluge of the dead arriving at a frightening pace.
By official count, 3,601 people have died this month, of them 2,267 in the last seven days alone in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic which is terrorising and tormenting the city. In all of February, the death toll was 57, and in March 117. As if the trauma of losing a loved one to the virus so suddenly is not enough, there is more grief in store for relatives who are not even able to give them a proper send-off.
They arrive at crematoriums with bodies, only to be turned away. They drive to another facility, and yet another, traversing the city with the mortal remains in personal cars or ambulances, desperately seeking a graceful exit for their father, mother, son or daughter from the material world.
The trauma is no less for the relatives of those who died of non-Covid causes but are being swept up in the collective national tragedy driven by the pandemic.
Outside, ambulances and cars honked and competed for parking space but inside all one could hear was the crackling of dry wood from the burning pyres -- all 50 of them roaring simultaneously.
A few sobs arose over the sound of the fires, and one could hear the unemotional intonations of instructions being given by the crematorium staff.
The chaos at the crematoriums has raised questions about the Delhi government's preparedness for the second wave, which Chief Minister Arvind Kerjriwal said, had left the healthcare system on the brink of collapse. Many deaths have also been attributed to a severe oxygen shortage for the last 10 days.