All the times I didn’t cry
I’ve run out of tears for the everyday. For the child tugging on my trousers in need of more things than money can buy, for the desperation in that parents eyes, for the putrid toxicity of people so desperate they are burning their plastic raincoats for firewood. I didn’t even cry in the Macedonian field, helplessly watching that man vomiting blood into the muddy ditch.
No, instead I cried in the train station. Immersed in repulsive normality. A young Grecian god with curly locks plays his shiny trumpet whilst waiting for a train, and I break down to the bewildered security guards, who are not entirely sure what to do with me. “Don’t cry, you will just be five hours later. We will help you get on the next train to Athens, it is ok, we will help”. Kind eyes, nervous pats on the shoulder. I want to express my whole world right now, but I hold it together. This isn’t about misleading directions and wrong platforms, not about missed trains and requests for more Euro that I couldn’t afford in the first place. Whether I’m in Thessaloniki or Athens or the side of the road these tears were still overdue. Instead I thank them for helping, and hold the rest inside.
I had become tired of writing. The stories of these people stick stubbornly in my mind, more accumulating each day. No amount of vocabulary can do these tales justice, so most days I fall asleep in a sea of draft copies and hand written notes that will most probably never make it to these pages. Is my enthusiasm fading as I pour all of my energy into holding hope for these people instead of putting pen to paper? No, it is still very much there, it has just been directed to other places. My passion for this cause and these people grows with every minute I spend in the muddy hell. Yes, hell. I cannot think of a better word to describe these fields, bisected by train tracks and cut off by a barbed and ruthless border.
42 days of mud, of sadness and despair and tragedy later, after much resistance I agree to take three days off in Athens, get some space, come back refreshed.
One hour away in this large city, my accidentally extended transit stop to Athens, life goes on. I want to scale the walls and shout from the rooftops.. “People! Look to your North, look in the mud. People are sick, people are dying all around you”. But, I suppose they know. How could you not, it’s all over the news, all of the time. Of course they know, but still I’m itching in my skin just knowing how rampant consumerism and luxury exists so close to the hell I call home. Two relaxed Greek men talk business beside me, the springtime sun shining across day planners and mobile phones. This is far too normal.
Back in camp human rights have become no longer just a concept we should fight, but a reality that I see violated over and over again. People are soaked into their bones. They have been for days, and they will continue to be for many more. If they say the wrong thing, or unknowingly present the wrong papers, they are beaten. Simple as that, sometimes even less — sometimes there is no reason. The borders are closed, they say. Forever. But where do we go? The question resonates with us all, I wish I had all of the answers. Even some of them would do.
The business man orders a frappe, pleasantly oblivious. I am going to wait here with my lack of answers for another five hours and hope to get let onto the next train.