Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The sleeping man

Since I left my bike at the office last week, I strolled to the office yesterday morning by way of the walking shortcut. Midway through the golf course, I passed one of Chipata's itinerant crazy men, draped in plastic bottles and dirty rags, sleeping (or possibly dead) on one of the paths that bisects the grass.

Although he was surrounded by what looked like charred bits of firewood and was himself a color that suggested he may have been recently burnt, I didn't think much of it because it's not that unusual to see dirty men sleeping randomly here.

But when I passed through the golf course again on my way home from the office, in the heat of the afternoon, he was still resting there on his back, a peaceful (dead?) expression on his face.

If this had been Trevor, I would have crept over to see if his chest was moving (as I had in fact done that very morning when Trevor slept unusually late). But having been unexpectedly grabbed by Chipata's lurching crazy men on several occasions, I kept my distance.

At dinner, I asked Trevor if he had come home through the golf course. He had, and he'd seen the man.

"How was he sleeping?"
"Curled up."
"On his side, or on his back?"

He was on his side, and thus, I surmised, alive enough to change position every few hours. Also, this morning when I passed the golf course, I could see even from the tarmac that he was sitting up. (I suspect he's sleeping off a bad case of malaria; it seems that everybody is sick these days.)

Thus we have been saved answering the question: what do you do in Zambia upon observing a dead man on the golf course?

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