Update: Mahmoud has passed away in hospital

Two days ago, I wrote about Mahmoud, a servant to a Zamalek family who fell ill and was only discovered in his rooftop room after four days. He was taken to a hospital, where he died yesterday in the presence of his family. Mahmoud was buried in the family grave of a shop owner close to his building in Zamalek.

As my friend told me some additional information on Mahmoud’s life, I feel obliged to include this in my blog to create a more complete picture of his life and death.

In my previous post, I wrote that Mahmoud was abandoned by the family he used to work for as soon as he fell ill. Many people from the neighborhood had told me this, and it seemed like a plausible explanation at the time. However, as it appears now, the story is more complicated.

Mahmoud used to work for the family for a very long time. When the father and mother of the family passed away, their son moved somewhere else. Mahmoud was allowed to stay in his room on the roof, and was still given small amounts of money during Eid (Islamic feasts). I don’t know why Mahmoud didn’t move with this son. Maybe he didn’t need him anymore, or perhaps Mahmoud didn’t want to work for him and preferred to stay. The family’s apartment has been uninhabited since.

The latter explanation seems to be likely. As his cousins told my friends: “[…] he always wanted to be left alone, and [we] hadn’t had contact with him for some time.” People from the neighborhood told us that Mahmoud was a very introvert and lonely man. For example, when he would come down the stairs, he would return halfway if he heard people talking in the garage.

When Mahmoud became ill, the son was traveling, so he couldn’t be reached for help. (I don’t think he ever said that Mahmoud is “not my business” because it appears that nobody spoke to him on Sunday.)

As more information has become available now, I think it’s clear that the story isn’t as black and white as some people in the area made it seem, and as I wrote it down in my previous blog. Still, it’s fair to say that many people have failed to care for Mahmoud (not in the least the ambulance staff and people who didn’t want to help him when he was dying). However, others have tried to help Mahmoud, even when nobody asked them to and while they’d never met him before (like the shop owner who agreed to bury Mahmoud in his family grave because of problems with Mahmoud’s family grave).

May he rest in peace.


Family servant left to die on rooftop of Zamalek residential building

Yesterday, a friend told me the story below.

Mahmoud was in his sixties when he fell ill and was left to die in his little room on the rooftop of a Zamalek residential building. He had been the servant of a family living in that building for almost forty years, but when they thought he wasn’t useful to them anymore, because he was ill and couldn’t perform his tasks, they just forgot about him. He was discovered by the bawab (porter) of the building. He hadn’t eaten or drunk for four days. They put him in the building’s garage, although it was obvious that he should be taken to a hospital.

“He’s not our business,” one member of the family said, when he was asked for help. The security staff of the garage and nearby buildings also didn’t want to get involved, because they were afraid to get in trouble. However, someone decided to call an ambulance. But when the ambulance arrived, nobody stood up for Mahmoud when the personnel asked for more information about him. They were unable to take him to the hospital, as nobody knew who Mahmoud was.

We decided to bring Mahmoud to the hospital ourselves. We carried the old man to a taxi, and took him to Qasr al-Eini Hospital, a government hospital in Manial. The hospital didn’t have any empty beds, so he had to lie on the floor all the time, while we arranged for medication.

We were finally able to reach Mahmoud’s family, and two of his cousins showed up late in the evening. They told us that he always wanted to be left alone, and that they hadn’t had contact with him for some time.

Mahmoud is being treated in the hospital for now, but it’s unclear how long he can stay there as the hospital is always short of beds. A doctor, who isn’t working in Qasr al-Eini, visited him this morning. She said Mahmoud is doing better, and family members were still with him.

If it weren’t for a few people, Mahmoud would have died in his room on the rooftop of a building inhabited by rich Egyptians, for whom it would take just a fraction of their wealth to save him, if they’d care. The selfishness and mentality of some very rich people in Egypt is absolutely disgusting.