I was there that day…

It was the warmest November ever. My girlfriend had arrived in Athens from abroad and we were euphoric. We’d gone down to Sounion two days before and there’s a photo of me barefoot on the rocks below the temple and we were laughing about going swimming in our underwear.

We’d rented a basement in Drossopoulou Street. We didn’t mind the miserable buildings, dark and dirty from the buses that lumbered along on their way towards friendlier parts of Athens that boasted tree-lined streets. That’s where my sister lived, in an apartment that we brothers had all contributed to so that she’d have her own house and dowry, and could get married. She’d invited us to drop by, and on the way from the bus window we saw the banners and signs on the Polytechnic building, and the crowds of students in the forecourt, others surging out onto the street, chanting and calling for reforms.

Some students were writing slogans on the buses as they pulled up at the traffic lights. Then the buses would continue on their way towards Omonia Square and then up towards Constitution Square, carrying the messages and demands for change and freedom all over Athens.

The next day, the wide street in front of the Polytechnic had been closed off, and buses were being diverted along other routes. In the distance we could see the crowd of students, and I wanted to join them. I said that I had to go and take part, it was my duty to protest, I had to go to the Polytechnic too, and my girlfriend let me go.

But I didn’t stay. I went back to our basement in Drossopoulou Street because we were taking a ferry to Monemvasia the next morning.

I was there that day, but I wasn’t there that night when the tanks came rumbling and one of my friends from school was killed. Once I looked at footage and photos and scenes from that night, searching for him. In the end I found his photo, but on the headstone of his grave at our cemetery.