3. Forbidden Shells (Blind Spots) by Maria Fokas
Today Greece is voting for the next Prime Minister . . . [Do not dwell on the days that drift by – Make them stop] – The words carved on an iron plaque, hung on cemetery gates, in a dream.
And so I took the bus to the center of town, early this morning as I could not sleep. I sat on the bus observing people going to their destinations. I looked for smiles, or lack of them; speculated about the thoughts they were consumed with; whether they were healing, or sickening their hearts. Only one was smiling. I imagined he was reliving a happy moment. Most had lifeless and cold lips on. Were they thinking politics, or maybe all the mistakes they’ve made so far. We have no qualms about spreading other people’s miseries but we hide our own very well. Could our miseries carry a sense of fault within them; our fault?
I came out of my thoughts to reflect upon the lifeless expressions again. This time, I imagined the frozen faces as a means to relax their muscles; people merely enjoying the ride. I asked myself, what constitutes a good day, opposed to a bad one. How subjective can it be? “Now if only I knew what made me happy,” a girl on the bus said into her cell phone. See, the subconscious may be sceptical of whether we’ve learnt from our mistakes. It’s there to protect us, not change us, or even trust us, and surely not to remind us of what makes us happy; just there to frighten us against past miseries. It feels safe to know the future beforehand. Now imagine a world where we always knew what would happen next – Always.
The bus stopped, and I got off; no destination to devour my thoughts. I walked down the elite street of my city; the center of the high-rises where the finest luxury jewels are sold, boutiques of high fashion, floral shops with the freshest collections of brilliant colored bouquets, pastry shops of extravagant assortments dressed in dazzling artistry of sugar-art; there for the taking. But every couple blocks reality hit me in the gut, as I saw people like me, do the thing where they just walk by the less fortunate ones. None blinked towards those sitting on the cold dirty cement; some had backs leaning up against the high buildings, others crouched forward with faces down to hide their misery. The ones who looked into my eyes, had tired and angry eye; somewhat like mine. I saw one man who seemed to be in a dream state, another was praying, and a third was whispering to himself, but none of them were baffled.
I wondered about their families; where they were, and if they knew or cared. I assumed they all had families. I captured three of these people in my camera, after I emptied my pockets. Yes, I am guilty, and yes, I felt guilty as I took those pictures, but I did it anyway. I felt misery looking through the lens; the kind I didn’t want to hide. I wondered what they felt as they watched me trying to take it all in. A teacher once said, “When we prepare for national exams, we’re as weak as our weakest students; we work together and succeed together.” Did I stop to take those pictures to give purpose to my life? I have to vote today – Ridiculous!