His voice was trembling but he tried to keep the composure, “Um, boss, my son just died. I just found out. On his way to the hospital. But it’s not my fault. It’s not…” Those last words succumbed their own weight. “He is in a morgue now, he was in pain and then he died. You know, maybe if I was there, maybe it wouldn’t have happened. His mom and I separated because it didn’t work and I came here to earn some money. I will sell the cow I bought for him since he won’t have a chance to have it now, since he is, um, dead. One tear clung desperately to the edge of his eye, and then, defeated, rolled down his cheek.
I just stood there, paralyzed, not knowing what to say. Not that there is exactly a manual for “choosing the right words when a child dies”. Even if there is one, these situations always knock me out of my shoes. And then I got angry at world, at life, at that nasty feeling of helplessness that always creeps out from the back and then hits you in the face. I kept thinking of that eight year old boy lying there in a cold morgue, no light or anything to warm him up.
It’s rainy season here, the roads to the countryside are piles of mud, it will take him at least a day to get there, and a day to get back. His colleagues refused to cover for him. All the weight of life came upon his shoulders and not even the best fork lift could lift it away.
I’ve become annoying to people, I reckon, with advocating how much the lives of the poorest among us are here, in our face. The only difference is that we’ve had more luck to not be doomed by birth. They weren’t so lucky. Life isn’t all about a full table and a warm bed. For them it is, at least most of the time, because human rights, politics, love and happiness are the luxury of a full stomach rather than burying your children or seeing them starve. I know they are capable of feeling all of it, but first comes first.
We figured it out eventually, our hero left to his son to say his last goodbye in this life. But there is no happy ending to this story. And I wonder for how long images of broken people and their dead children will haunt me in my dreams while sleeping in my warm bed, with full belly in the First World, once I leave this capital of hopelessness.