The Boy Who Died Twice.

Tanvir Naomi Bush Uncategorized 2 Comments

A few years ago I had just finished shooting a documentary at an HIVAIDS hospice outside of Lusaka where my father was volunteering as a medical supervisor The hospice was on the grounds of a catholic convent run by a Polish order of nuns and one afternoon Dad and I were asked into tea. In the living room was already ensconced a large bearded Catholic Father from Italy whose massive eyebrows were constantly twitching with chuckles and suppressed laughter. He prodded the nuns to get them to giggle. He even prodded my Dad – he was brave I’ll give him that.

However half way through the visit one of the nuns came in with biscuits looking grave.
‘That is a terrible story you bring with you Father,’ she said
Dad and I turned surprised to the priest who up til then had seemed as jolly as Santa.
His eyebrows settled and sunk. His lips thinned. All laughter was gone and a dark gloom filled the air.
‘Sister, he responded quietly, ‘ I had put it to the back of my mind but you are right. It has been a terrible week’

‘Are you all right Father?’ asked my dad.

The Father it turned out had just come from a funeral in Northern province. The funeral was for a boy who had died twice.

The lad had a form of epilepsy that caused him to fall into deep coma like sleeps after a seizure. Little was known about his condition but people understood that he would take an hour or so and then wake. He was 14 and one day he didn’t wake up. Eventually his mother panicked and took him to the local health centre. There a medic declared him dead. His heart broken mother was taken away to help prepare the funeral and his body was taken to the local morgue.

In the morning when the relatives and the priest came to collect the boys’ body they were horrified to find his head staved in and the body mutilated. Noone could understand why his body had suffered such abuse and then the priest noticed the morgue orderlies were looking terrified and guilty. He demanded to know what had happened and they told him the boy’s body had been possessed by demons.

In fact the poor kid had only been in a deep post seizure sleep and not dead. In the night he had woken in his metal drawer in the morgue and of course panicked and smashed and pounded to be let out. The two orderlies, believing the boy had returned from the dead as a demon, had opened the drawer armed with hammers and sticks and beaten the boy back down. Then they had laid out the body and kept watch until the grieving relatives arrived.

The priest finished his story and in the silence that followed he reached for a biscuit and munched it contemplatively.

‘The morgue attendants were arrested still protesting their innocence…in fact still thinking they were heroes. Dio mio! What could I do? We buried the boy in the grave prepared for him the day before he died.’

And that my dear friend’s, is God’s honest truth. Really. Ask my Dad.

Happy Halloween.

‘Basketcase’: Tanvir Bush (c) 2007

Comments 2

  1. oh my god tanvi..that’s so AWFUL. but being zambian i can understand how the terrible story unravelled itself…oh how TERRIBLE!? love love xx janelle

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