The following text was written after the news of the drowning of at least 58 people in the Aegean sea, as they were trying to cross from the turkish shores to one of the greek islands (Sep 6).
[I never had the fear of not having a motherland or a flag, of feeling thrown out on the shore of the seas of imaginary [national] unity and obsessive security. Yet always, whenever I would embark a ship — even now, perhaps — I had a fear of drowning, of sailing randomly in an inhospitable, cruel sea, vast and dark — just like it appears from above, from afar, when you do not swim inside her. Inside her, everything is different. You become a friend, her waters touch you everywhere, you learn her out, you acquaint each other. Fear is only born if you are in the outside. When you just look at her, not when you swim. Fear only exists when you are not a friend.]
I look at the little girl who no longer has any motherland, a fear for the sea, or any fears for anything whatsoever. They were all drowned in a wave of the inhospitable, cruel sea. The girl followed either her parents or a distant promise of an unknown voice, into a voyage to the other sea –how much we miss you, Theo [Angelopoulos], dammit– and found herself fighting in this sea, fighting amidst the waters and the sticks and the metal bars, to find some leeward of the distant promise, to be consolidated by the unknown voice.
The girl had taken care of everything before the long voyage; with her running trousers, ready to run toward the distant promise — and to make fear distant; with her matching socks (I don’t write socklets, to stop the barbaric melodrama from raising it all to the ground) — and in either case, the entire tenderness is to be found in that they were matching. And her long braid, impeccable, like the strings of the wind, sign of another humanity, of a culture that hasn’t lost everything just because it has lost motherlands and has filled with fears; a culture that no matter how much of a refugee one might abandon her motherland, she equally as much wants to be a human when making the great journey: wearing their best, combed, with matching socks and a new pair of sports trousers. The child wants to travel as a child, not as a number in statistics or forfeited by the weightless laws of some Mediterranean colony. The child, as a child, believes in her parents or in the unknown voice with the distant promise, telling her that somewhere there is a better place, a better job for dad, better friends, better school, better fears, better seas. The cruel sea, which knows of places, which sprays them with water everyday, which counts in her basin bodies as boats and hands as paddles, which drowns fears and humans, doesn’t believe so.
The motionless body of the girl now suffers in the inhuman lap of the no longer — of the definite, of reality, of photographic harshness. It no longer exists. Or rather it exists, but it is no longer the same. Its hands seem alive, as if they hold something, as if they squeeze something tightly as if for it not to escape; but they no longer hold, they no longer touch. Or rather they touch, but they do not know so. They no longer feel. They no longer believe in better places; not because the places are lost, but because the eyes are. From now on, the hands will be tightly closed, as will the eyes.
And this sea, little girl, has never to this day given rise to better places to anyone. This sea, little girl, has bid you a bitter farewell; and waits for you. But it beckons to you, little girl with the impeccable braid and the matching socks, that [as the song goes] “behind the hills, behind the eyelids, there is a place for you, too”. Without the tightly closed hands.