Zeinhom Morgue sums up everything that is wrong with the Egyptian state. It is a small box of a building down an alleyway covered both with the rich stench of excrement coming from the Brooke Animal Hospital next door and the graffiti of the aggrieved; the forensic authority is the last step on the production line of state oppression. It shits out its mutilated victims to their relatives, congregated in the morgue’s yard, the ground of which is covered in sand and abandoned furniture and scraps of wood.
Relatives are not being allowed inside. Some are lined up in a narrow corridor with their empty coffins, waiting. One coffin has a pillow. After a long stretch without the door opening and a body coming out, a frustrated young man begins kicking at the iron door furiously, demanding to be let in. The door remains closed and no one stirs inside. An older man storms out, pushing people out of the way and grabs a piece of wood with the intention of doing something with it, pauses, reconsiders. He grabs wildly at the electricity cables hanging carelessly over the morgue’s walls like cobwebs until he is urged to move away.
Still no movement from inside, so men hoist each other up to look through a space above the door. One man delivers an uninterrupted stream of the bluest obscenities imaginable at the doctors inside, who he accuses of refusing to work. People shift around uncomfortably as the words bounce off the walls and reverberate. Still nothing. A man walks in and shouts that people must check the forensic reports before they leave; the morgue is saying people were shot in the stomach when they were shot in the back.
There is a middle-aged man holding a plastic bag on the side, observing. He starts telling his story, a dead daughter, medical negligence and years of fighting with the forensic authority for some kind of redress. He asks for the address of a human rights group, asks for it to be written carefully because he can’t read or write and needs to show it to people for directions. He says thank you, pulls out a little book with details of the case and a picture of his daughter, 5 years old, and says, could anyone abandon this beautiful girl.