On the weekend I am fairly certain that I saw my first dead body.
I was in a Grab car, heading towards the Old Quarter to see my friend. We were driving along the lake, and traffic had actually been okay. We got stopped as there was a motorbike parked in our lane, completely blocking it. There were people directing traffic around it, but no police or medical service people or anything about.
As we pulled around the motorbike, I saw why it had been left parked in the road. It was to protect the body of the man who was lying on the pavement on the other side of it.
I’m not one to stop and look at accidents. I don’t like to watch videos of people hurting themselves online (WHY are those so popular? I see them shared on Facebook all the time.) But this time, I couldn’t help but see.
I was looking out of my passenger side window, trying to figure out what happened, trying to see why no one was moving the bike. I suppose if I had had more time to think, I would have known what was going on. But it was all so fast.
I didn’t see the accident. I didn’t see the cause. Just the body.
He was lying on the pavement on his front, with his head turned towards us. He still had his helmet on. He wasn’t gross or banged up or anything, but he was also not moving and there was blood coming from his ears and nose. I don’t think that is a sign of good health.
It looked, in all honesty, like he was taking a nap. Just a nap on the pavement with a small pool of his own blood as a pillow.
I cannot say for certain that he was dead. But there were loads of people around and no one was tending to him, just guarding the body. And there were no police or EMTs. As we passed and carried on our way, I never did hear any sirens or see anyone responding. I would think if he was just hurt, there would be more activity to help him. It’s my gut belief that no one was doing much simply because there was nothing more they could do.
And there was nothing more I could do. I continued on my way to see my friend. I thought about what I had seen on and off that night, and at random moments since. I mostly think about how it didn’t seem like a very big deal. I have, after all, seen a thousand deaths on television and in the movies, and this did not look much different through the window of my passing taxi.
But I do keep thinking about him. I hope that if he is dead, he didn’t suffer. I hope his family and friends are doing the best they can through the grieving process. I think about how minimal my reaction was and has been, and if that is due to me being comfortable with the idea of death (which is, after all, a natural part of life) or if it is just due to a certain level of being desensitised because of seeing so many fictional deaths.
It did not make me afraid. I still ride my motorbike and I still enjoy it. It did, however, make me go out and buy a better helmet.