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The two faces of hunger #4 - Sacrifices The two faces of hunger #4 - Sacrifices
by Katerina Charisi
2020-03-11 09:37:59
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The first day at school my eldest son went without a schoolbag. He brought his books back in a plastic bag. Watching him coming to me carrying this heavy bag while all of his friends ran all excited with their new, colorful schoolbags, is an image that can’t escape my mind. It was another reason to feel guilty, another reason to feel ashamed for all the things I can’t do for my kids. He forgot about it with that magic ability that kids have, to forget so easy. But I didn’t.

That day, I kept asking myself: Why? Why can’t I even buy a schoolbag for my kid? What do I do wrong and I never have enough money?

It was a bad day for me. But later, another thought sparkled inside me head: I didn’t cause any of all this. It is not my fault!

It is not my fault.

Whatever’s happening the last few years in Greece, is not my fault. I didn’t cause it to happen, I cannot make it end, I cannot control it. It is not my fault! I need to believe this. People suffer in Greece. Not everyone, no. In a weird way, somehow, those who suffer from the recession and those who do not feel it more than an annoying bug or a cold breeze, do not see each other. Sometimes I even believe that the latter don’t even know that the first ones exist.

povert_400One day I was on the phone with a very good friend of mine who lives abroad, three decades now. He can come back to Greece anytime he wants. He talked to me about art galleries and theaters and I was telling him that my kids ran out of toothpaste, three days ago. Toothpaste! The contrast between our lives is an abyss. “Do you really believe”, he asked me, “that if I came back in Greece, with 2000e pension per month, I would even know there is a crisis going on?”

No. He wouldn’t know. He will never know what I’m talking about, no matter how hard he tried. I don’t understand what he’s talking about, either. The life he described to me, a life of hobbies, fun, choices, is another universe for me. We live in parallel universes.

Sometimes it seems like people dealing with similar situations have a secret recognition code or something. Like when pregnant women can see right away among the crowd all the large, round tummies, like someone who puts glasses for the first time, thinks that everybody around them wears glasses. There is something among the poor that make them recognizable among other poor people. Is it the uncared haircut? Is it the white hair spreading among the 35 year old heads? Is it the funny combination of their clothes? The tight smile that hides the rotting teeth? The torn shoes? It is something. A silent recognition. We know it, we see it, we pretend it’s not there, we pretend everything is perfect. We keep our problems inside and grind them against our hearts. Are we still in the denying phase? Where are we? Is it our broken pride? Is it that in our most productive years, we cannot live at all?

I went to buy shoes for the kids. “Their size?” the woman in the store asked. I didn’t know. I didn’t know it! And I didn’t know because the last pairs of shoes my kids had, were from people who gave them to us. The size on the label was erased. As a matter of fact, I wasn’t even sure the shoes were on their size. I just assumed it was okay. I was so embarrassed.

“We just exist”, a woman said to a reporter once. “Most Greeks just exist”.

That’s it. We exist; but we do not live.



 The two faces of hunger #1 #2 #3 #4


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