The dead man who wore pajamas – Part 1

Paulo Coelho

I remember reading a piece of news on the Internet that a man was found dead in Tokyo on 10 June 2004, dressed in his pajamas.

So what? I imagine that most people who die wearing their pajamas either a) died in their sleep, which is a blessing, or b) were in the company of their relatives or on a hospital bed – death did not come quickly, so they all had time to grow used to “the undesirable one,” as Brazilian poet Manuel Bandeira called it.

The news goes on: when he died, he was in his room. So, the hospital hypothesis is out and we are left with just the possibility that he died in his sleep, without suffering any, without even realizing that he would not see the light of day.

But there is still another possibility: assault followed by death.

Those who have visited Tokyo know that the gigantic city is at the same time one of the safest places in the world. I remember once stopping to eat with my editors before taking a trip to the interior of Japan – all our suitcases were in sight on the rear seat of the car. Immediately I said that it was very dangerous, someone was sure to come along, see all those bags and make off with our clothes, documents and so on. My editor just smiled and told me not to worry – he knew of no such incident in all his long years of life (in fact, nothing happened to our suitcases, although I kept tense all through dinner).

But to return to our dead man in pajamas: there was no sign of struggle, violence or anything of the sort. In an interview, a Metropolitan Police officer stated that it was almost certainly a case of a sudden heart attack. So the hypothesis of homicide was also eliminated.

The body had been found by workers of a construction company on the second floor of a building in a housing complex that was about to be torn down. Everything led to the idea that the dead man in the pajamas, unable to find anywhere to live in one of the most densely and expensive cities in the world, had simply decided to settle where he did not have to pay any rent.

And now for the tragic part of the story: our dead man was only a skeleton dressed in pajamas. At his side was an open newspaper dated 20 February 1984; a calendar on the table nearby gave the same date.

In other words, he had been there for twenty years.

And nobody had noticed his absence.

The rest of this text will be posted here on Friday 20th of March

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