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      Finally we reach the corner of Harilaou Trikoupi and Kali Dromeo and look nervously around. Down Harilaou Trikoupi there was another grouping of policemen. There were two or three black-clad students trying to disappear behind us as we waited at the traffic light, waited until we realized that there was no traffic because it was blocked somewhere. We crossed the street, looking straight ahead at the fish shop on the corner. The students skittered off in another direction. Up the street there was a huge gathering of police at their lair, but it was clear two doors up from the fish shop at the apartment. I trembled the key into the lock and we pulled each other into the building, up the stairs and to the apartment where I got the key in the door and we were finally in some kind of secure nest.
My face burns as I write this and my eyes feel sandy and very tired. In my imagination I still smell tear gas. It is something like burning plastic.
      I have no idea what any of this means. It wasn’t that we were scared, just helpless. Maybe we were scared, too, because we told each other after that we were worried that a bomb would come flying through the window of the restaurant, or that we’d be shot by the police. But it was an intellectual fear, an almost objective viewpoint, distant from what it meant other than as a possibility in an intellectual juggernaut.
      What we saw was the real side of violent clashes, the uninvited, unintended and unnoticed violence against bystanders. We saw the honest view, the one where you are helpless and intellectually waiting for a bomb to come flying through the window while you choke and gag on the bile of violence.
      I’ll think about this for a while. Meanwhile, we live to dine another day.

 

Alex Morton. Exarchia, Athens, December 6, 2013

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