Thursday, December 06, 2007

I saw a dead man today

I read an article in one of our daily newspapers that compared Jamaica to a country at war. It reminded me that this was exactly why my blog was started...hence the name 'On the Edge of War'. At some point within the almost two years of the blog, life has been so normal that i almost forgot about the war that was brewing. This sense of well being was jarred over the past two weeks when almost every morning i awoke to the news that multiple people were killed the night before. Actually a story in another newspaper heralded the fact that 47 people have been murdered in the last 7 days. The latest statistics indicate that there have been 1477 reported murders since the start of the year. In a nation of approximately 2.5 million people that puts us third on the murders per capita list, behind only Colombia and South Africa.

I would be lying if i said i was not more than a little scared. A co-worker's cousin and her husband was attacked two weeks ago, their door was kicked off and shots fired. The husband died, the cousin is battling for her life in the hospital. They think it is a case of mistaken identity. Purportedly, criminals will send a note of apology to the family of the deceased in case of mistake identity. How gallant of them.

This increase in violence seems to stem from the local government elections that were held yesterday. Local Government???? WHO THE HELL CARES ABOUT THAT? Well, so many people thought, but obviously this is not the case, even a little power is still power i guess.

I apologize if my ramblings are a little disjointed, i am feeling a tad out of it this morning. I was awoken at 5:30 am by banging on a neighbour's door (aaahhh the joys of apartment living!). Turns out that they were trying to wake the occupant whose smoke alarm was going off. They finally had to break down the door and the woosh of smoke that erupted led me to rush inside (i had gone on my balcony to find the source of the racket) and throw clothes on and try to grab important papers and my laptop. I went downstairs to see them breaking down the front door with a pick-axe...the back door had burglar bars and no amount of commotion could rouse the occupant. There was no hindrance at the front, but the smoke was so heavy, no one could go in. By this time the fire brigade was called and had turned up in a timely manner, just as the apartment caught fire. Unfortunately the occupant was long dead from smoke inhalation. It seems the smoke alarm had been going off since at least 10 pm last evening, but no one who heard it figured out what it was. The firemen then informed us that the only reason the building had not gone up in flames was the fact that the apartment was tightly closed preventing air from entering. The flames started after the doors were opened and oxygen allowed in. Of course maybe if a window had been open someone would have seen the smoke early and the occupant could have been saved. Again, maybe not!!

The police came, they sealed the front of the apartment but they couldn't seal the back. The bedroom is towards the back, and there, through the window, we saw the unfortunate soul, lying half on and half off his bed, fully clothed, his cell phone burned, his mattress charred and a hole in the bed where his cigarette had fallen from his fingers.

The coroners are yet to arrive.