I cannot help but wonder sometimes of that day, when I finally observed, for the first time, what and who lies below us, while I was proudly wandering around the city of Thessaloniki with a member of my family. In fact, I still recall the name I had once thought about him, about the boy of my story. His name was Petros.
So there he was, during that wonderful roaming of ours. Five meters away from an individual, whose shop provided classy women with fashionable clothing, in the central square. Petros was lying on the pavement, entirely surrendered to his addiction. He was marked with the stigma of “doper”. All over his body, one could effortlessly discern all those wounds, made by the needles’ piercings. A body in a million. As if it looked like a blooming rose. Until nowadays, I have not made it to successfully look through the eyes of Petros, it still consists an inconceivable act of understanding.
Interestingly enough, a man dying in the bare sight of hundreds of eyesets did not at all consist a noteworthy event. Trapped inside our personal, microcosmic, well-educated space, distracted by all these things that really matter, the western, humanitarian values we superficially brag about, pointlessly consist a mind construction. And this is how we feel superior. We feel redeemed. And we reassure ourselves about the usefulness of our existence. Rehabilitation centers and cities full of distress.
The shop owner loudly demanded, in an act of unprecedented brutality and disrespect, that Petros leave the pavement, a public space which actually belongs to the municipality. He claimed that a drug addict deterred his potential clients from entering his store. Petros burst into tears and apologized, a lot more than once. And that day, no one stood up for him. We passed by and turned our head the other way, trapped inside a feeling of bitterness. I suddenly became a part, a “cogwheel” of humanity’s “system failure”. An enlightened society which discards the vulnerable, unworthy, invisible.
That was how I felt back then. Empty-hearted, inside a deep manichaeistic realization: In fact, it could have been me, Petros or the shop owner. It could have been my Brother or Friend, desperately begging for a pittance, in order to save their next "bang". Would I ignore them, then? Who would I put the blame on? In a moment of clarity, one could assume that creating a virtual world of hallucinations might constitute a frantic plea to escape from injustice, verbal or physical abuse, lack of love, respect and dignity. What if drugs transport oneself to a perfect life illusion? Ironical, isn’t it? The ultimate attempt to live through dying.
Cynical as it might seem, “our” empty minds equate to “their” decayed bodies. Wherever you are, forgive us..