Death Prevailed Me

By jean le divin tshimankinda

Death is considered to be the end of everything—a leap into an unknown world. What happens if that border is crossed too early? If the breath of life leaves the body, and the soul remains caught in the body, imprisoned within a coffin, the living body is buried in a dark and lugubrious tomb.

There is a popular fiction spread all over the North-East of Brazil. It speaks of Rosangela, a young woman living in a small city in the North-East of Brazil. She was declared dead and was buried. However, what happened after that is a nightmare that continues to haunt the people who live in the North-East region of Brazil.

Rosangela was suffering from an unknown sickness. Her skin was full of scabies; she was constantly coughing and unable to walk alone. She had endured this for four long years, always asleep in her house. Her eyes were red, her skin affected, and her mental health was deteriorating. One day, her family noticed a change. She woke up stronger, able to move and interact, a stark contrast to her previous condition. Friends and family were overjoyed to see Rosangela seemingly improving. In the afternoon, she went to buy a box of sweet candy from a shop nearby. Upon returning home, she shared candies with her family and a friend who was present. As she made her way to the bathroom, she fell suddenly at the bathroom door, dizzy and agitated. Panicked, they rushed her to the hospital. She was not breathing. In the emergency room, after thirty agonizing minutes, the doctor emerged and met the patient’s family. Rosangela’s uncle was there, and the doctor broke the devastating news—despite their efforts, she had passed away. This message was the worst thing her uncle had ever heard. Overwhelmed, he shouted and wept, lamenting how she had appeared to be improving only to be taken away so suddenly.

Everyone in the neighborhood was affected by her death. She was a lovely, kind, and beautiful girl, with big, white eyes, long black hair, and well-aligned white teeth resembling pearls. She was supposed to be buried after three days, but her uncle was in disagreement; he believed his niece was not truly dead and could come back to life. They should wait a bit. After five days, they reluctantly agreed to bury her on the sixth day. Her uncle could not shake the feeling that she had been buried alive; he was troubled and confused, tormented by the thought. He started to imagine the following.

He thought that when they buried her, she may have felt being buried alive. She screamed and struggled, but there was no one to hear her cries. There was nothing for her to eat or drink; she starved, clad only in a white tight dress, alone in the darkness. She was breathing but no longer alive. Buried by the hands of her beloved ones, she would come back, asking them all, ‘She is alive!’ she cried, shouting loudly, ‘Help! Help! Help!’ but no one was there.

Her grandmother recounted, “When death finally came for her, the dead whispered to her that she should not struggle against death, but join them in the eternal darkness. She kept scratching the lid of the coffin; her nails broke, and her skin tore. She screamed, ‘Help! Help! Help!’ hoping someone could hear and rescue her. But none came; she was all alone in the full obscurity, with the whispering voices as her only company.”

Her brother tried to imagine and explained what happened to his sister in the following words: “Rosangela felt that she was slowly losing consciousness; her breath grew shorter and irregular. She was terrified, listening to voices whispering seemingly from nowhere, encouraging her to surrender, not to struggle against death, to let it happen. She felt weaker and weaker, surrounded by intense noises. The rain fell on the stone tomb, thunder rumbled, and the wind blew violently, shaking the earth below her. She thought the world was about to collapse. Suddenly, she felt being touched by a cold, clawed hand. She couldn’t move or shout; she was paralyzed with fear. The dead hands started to touch and caress her body. The voices sounded closer and more present and more oppressive. She felt their freezing breath on her skin, their foul breath in her nostrils. They begged her to join them in their dark world. She struggled against them as hard as she could, but she was getting weaker and weaker, more and more isolated, more and more alone. The whispers and voices seemed to mock her while she was agonizing, leaving her in their dead and freezing hands.”

Her uncle thought that over the days, she started feeling more and more pain. Her muscles atrophied under the effect of immobility. She began to hallucinate, seeing moving shadows in the obscurity and hearing inaudible conversations. She didn’t know if she was awake or dreaming. Madness was approaching, leading her to yell terrifyingly or remain quiet. She struggled to comprehend how she was caught in that situation, but everything was confused. She was no longer sure of who she really was, of what she did, or what happened to her. He started spreading all these imaginations everywhere to say that Rosangela went through this nightmare, and he was unable to help her. Many people believed him because he says that after that, he went to her niece’s tomb and heard moans coming from the tomb. He is not the only one to affirm it.

After Rosangela’s uncle explained what he believes happened to his niece in the tomb, people were shocked, confused, sad, terrified, and afraid of what happened to Rosangela. She was buried alive, and no one could help her in that distressing moment.

Some people still say that today you can hear Rosangela’s moans coming from her tomb, and sometimes, if you pay attention, you can even hear her voice whispering, ‘Don’t let me die again, please!’

15 September, 2023