5 dead on arrival. All littered with gunshots. Examining a cold, hard cheerless body leaves you cold, hard and cheerless. 4 of the men shot were relatives to our guards. Abaker, one of the guards, is big man. In many ways. he is towering figure with a deep ravenous voice that keeps u awake when he is on duty at the expat house. He has equally deep dimples that liquefies all malevolence. He is a big guy. Today he shrunk. I think it might have been the first time I have witnessed someone wilt when their loved one has died. Maybe because he lost 3 in one shot so to speak. Usually I get to observe families members when we come bearing bad news and overarching grief strikes most in the form of shock and disbelief and then a deluge.
I have never visibly seen someone wither down as he did the night he came to identify the body of the now immeasurable loved ones he has lost since the conflict began. I have little to offer in times like this. For another gentleman I break all taboos and stroke him tenderly to commiserate. I felt so charged to sympathise, that when I saw some men outside the morgue sitting, I went over to… you know just try to say something. Nothing came out of my mouth of course.
I noticed the men were sewing together pieces of material for the burial rites, using the edge of the material as thread, making gloves for the body. Now you must be let in on a secret, a man sewing (and daddy caretakers), turn me to mush. More so in a dense patriarchal society as this one. All I mustered was ''moomkin?'' meaning possible? Pointing to the carpet asking permission for lady doctor to sit beside them. Solemn nods of approval. I watched and dropped my head each time someone came over to greet preparations were halted and the offering of their palms up to the heavens in prayer. Every 30 odd times. In a raw second, I catch the eye of the gentleman I hugged earlier. His eyes caught mine and I think he's saying with a sense of stoical forgottenness he feels the world owes him nothing, nobody is watching and none of his pleas to bring back his relative is heard. I'm sure when we lose a loved one all we want is to replace and restore. I think all I have to offer him is the hope that owing and watching each other is a priceless surrogate.