Monday, March 18, 2013

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Most Famous " Real life " Zombie

In 1981, Angelina Narcisse let out an attention-grabbing scream in an open market in the town of L’Estère. No, no one had grabbed her purse or anything. Just that her brother whom she had not, ahem, seen in a long time had approached her for some small talk. It would have been a most joyous reunion, except that, well, back in 1962 she and her whole family had buried this beloved brother.

Flashback to 1962! Clairvius Narcisse felt so sick that he checked himself into called Albert Schweitzer Hospital in the town of Deschapelles, miles away from his hometown. The doctors, one a doctor from the US, and the other trained in the US, diagnosed him with a combination of disorders including hypotension and pulmonary edema. Narcisse had a terrible fever, and was experiencing breathing problems, and would later say that he felt a strange sensation all over his body, something akin to bugs crawling all over his skin. Soon thereafter, he was pronounced dead by the doctors, and his sister Marie-Claire affixed her thumb print on the death certificate in lieu of signing.
Narcisse was buried. Throughout this, he (later) said, he could hear everything that was happening around him; he just couldn’t respond. He could hear his sister Angelina weeping at his bedside, and his whole funeral procession. He could feel the nail that went through his casket, and would later develop a scar on his forehead from it. A priest of the vodun religion, along with many others came to his grave site, took his body out of coffin, and beat him profusely, then tied him up, and carried him miles away from his home.
He was taken somewhere where he joined semi-stupefied people like him, and worked day and night on a large farm. There he was given some kind of concoction everyday, so that he could never regain his common sense. Eventually though, one of his fellow “zombies” beat the captor with hoe, and they all escaped. Narcisse, who had been on the plantation for two years, learned at one point that his brother was the one who had gotten him poisoned over a property dispute, so after his escape he avoided his hometown—fearing his brother—though apparently he kept close contact with people would keep him informed of the happenings in his town. In the meantime, he wandered around near the vicinity of his home, as a mandyan (a (sometimes) homeless person who begs passers-by for food and change), until he learned that his brother had died.
The fact that Narcisse was indeed the Narcisse that had died years ago, was confirmed by Lamarque Douyon, a Haitian psychiatrist. Douyon formulated a questionnaire series and Narcisse answered them all correctly to the letter. Douyon also got about 200 witnesses including friends and family members to confirm his identity. What’s more, when Narcisse had initially approached his sister in the open air market, he had used a nickname for himself that the family had for him, in his early childhood that only they would have known.
Narcisse’s case attracted a great deal of international media, including New Scientist magazine and Time magazine which both wrote feature stories in 1983. The BBC sent a crew to Haiti in 1981 to produce a documentary on his case, and ABC also sent reporters. Harvard University even sent a young ethnobotanist by the name of Wade Davis to do some studies on Narcisse. Davis’s trips to Haiti would later yield two books, one of which was The Serpent and the Rainbow, (a bestseller in the USA), the basis for a movie of the same name that was released in 1988.


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