Monday, 8 October 2012

About the presence of death

As always, I'm blogging when I'm supposed to be studying. Just taking a break, though.

I want to write about something that happened a couple of weeks ago. I returned from Romania where I had visited family and, the next day, coming back from grocery shopping, I noticed a weird smell in the hallway. Having spent all my life living in apartment buildings, I'm used to the fact that there's always a weird smell somewhere. This was different, though. It smelled like death. It smelled like dead, actually... long dead. First thought... something died. Pigeons and squirrels are generally the first that come to mind, but they can't get into our stairwell and, more than that, it seem to be coming from inside one of my neighbor's apartment. I thought he had gone on a long trip and forgot to leave his cat enough food or something. The something died theory seemed to be confirmed by the smell getting worse as the days went by. On the fourth day since the discovery of the smell I decided to call someone. Being a rather lazy individual, I told myself I would wait till morning. I wasn't going to call the police and the building administration has office hours only until 4 o'clock, anyway. At something past 6 all I could do was leave a message, which seemed rather pointless. Little did I know I would never get the chance of phoning it in. Sometime after 7 I heard some noises in the hallway. I went to have a look through the peephole. Police and paramedics all over the place. 'Alright' I thought, 'they're gonna do something about that damn dead animal'. With all this going on, I still couldn't wrap my head around the fact that somebody rather than something might have died.
After what seemed like 15 minutes somebody rang my doorbell. It was one of the police officers who wanted to tell me to stay indoors until they clear out what was left of my neighbor. That's right. My neighbor had died and there he was just before the door, only his rather purple legs and his round white belly visible, the rest of him submerged in the darkness of his home. I said 'Okay' and quickly closed the door. As the fact that my neighbor had died was sinking in, I started to lose it. I was hyperventilating and I kept thinking about how the roundness of his belly reminded me of the roundness of the moon and how the smell made me want to vomit and how I was unable to vomit due to my hyperventilation. I somehow pulled myself together after hearing a friend tell me it was all going to be okay. That was all I needed to hear. After seeing him lying on his back like that, I felt like nothing was going to be okay... ever. And I just wanted somebody to tell me that I was wrong and that the fallen are just like us, which means we are just like them... only not yet.

Looking back on this, I seem to understand why I freaked out. I mean... I had smelt putrefaction way worse than that and I had been in the presence of dead human bodies before, but something about this was different. Maybe it was because I knew before anybody else. I remember telling my roommate on the very first day I smelled it 'Hope our neighbor's not dead'. I obviously thought it was cool to be sarcastic and making fun of death was the ultimate thing in the being sarcastic business. Little did I know that the Universe out there was thinking 'Sure, it's funny now... you just wait for your time.'
Maybe it was just the feeling of failure... I had failed to act upon my instincts and, although it would have been too late to save him from death, I could have at least saved him from rotting before his front door. Our failure is the thing ugliest to us, something we cannot bury or forget or treat lightly. It's the stinkiest thing out there.


P.S. It seems stupid to add things about my everyday life to this, so I'll let it break here... rzvn update still to come.

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