When he reached the crowd a Police Land Rover had pulled up and two policemen lifted the body into the car. He told me he was shocked to recognize it was the body of his younger brother. It was in that confused state that he walked to my office, which was close to his, and broke the news.
I asked my driver to accompany him to his house where we agreed he should go to inform his family. I went straight to the scene and found the Land Rover still at the scene with the body covered by a white sheet. I recognized one of the police officers and informed him I knew the deceased. He told me after the necessary reports are filed the body would be taken to the Muhimbili Medical Center's mortuary.
I returned to my office and, soon after, my friend and his cousin showed up. After delivering the tragic news at home they went to the Central Police station to find out the cause of death but were unable to locate any record of the incident. They were informed that the only recorded death was of a man from Kinondoni district who had collapsed in front of an office building. The police even had a name of the deceased, which they found from an ID card that was in his pocket. It was not his brother's name.
I had to answer a barrage of questions from my friend and his cousin including:
Did I see the body?No, I did not see the body because when I arrived at Muhimbili the body was covered and the policemen told me they needed some time to file the death report.
Was it "J"?
I suggested that to put the matter to rest the three of us should talk to the policeman I talked to. When we found him the police officer was certain that the deceased had been properly identified and it was definitely not "J". My friend was adamant, insisting that he had seen his brother at the scene, although it appeared to me he was not quite convinced.
Finally, the police officer suggested that only a visit to the mortuary will put the matter to rest. That visit, reminded me once again how a lifeless human being instills such fear in living humans.
When the mortuary door was opened, I led my two friends behind the mortuary attendant who urged us to approach the spot where the body of the deceased was laid on the floor of the packed mortuary. I was the braver of the two and, although I noticed some resemblance with my friend's brother, concluded that the body of the man lying on the floor was not "J".
After hesitating at the entrance for some time, my two friends cautiously approached the body and concurred with my observation.
At home, relatives, friends, and neighbours had already gathered after receiving the 'sad' news. Back at the office, our discussion centred on how to break the "good news". I declined the offer made by my two friends of having the honour to break the good news. Instead, I offered my car to them and said I had some work to clear at the office.
I heard "J" walked back home to his 'funeral' after, fortunately, the "good" news of that eventful day had reached both him and those who had gathered to mourn his death.