Chapter 34: Leaving

I took the night ship back to Athens, after having bid my farewells and seen my old teacher Sakis for one last time. The EINA doctors have left two days ago, but Alexandros, Khalid, Yannis the diver stayed on, along with Apollo, Bryan, Marina and Nikos from Sykaminia, while a new crew arrived from Athens to help them at Sykaminia. Wolfgang and Aline our two young doctors from Germany are also staying on. The day I left Skala, the Spanish coast rescue team was still there doing its great rescue work, and of course so was the reception ‘committee’ of the three grandmothers from Sykaminia sitting at the bench next to Bryan’s kitchen.

I booked a cabin this time, knowing the ship would be full of refugees heading to Athens. I needed a long secluded sleep. I thought this might help me re-emerge back in the world I left behind by giving a dreamlike hue to all these days I spent in Lesvos. Up on the deck, I see the ship slowly slipping out of the beautiful port of Mytilene, the city lights reflecting on its waters. A group of excited young Syrians and Afghanis, men and women, was hanging on the rails, giddily looking out. They told me of their families already scattered across Europe, of those left behind, the wars, the future plans they had. Back then I already knew of the clouds gathering for them upstream Europe, but I was too spent, too tired, and chose not to say anything. As on the coast of Sykaminia, I found myself once again secretly hoping that moments like these, them hanging on the rail of a passenger ship looking out to the port of Mytilene glistening at night, would somehow inoculate them for what was ahead. I wished them well, and went back to my cabin. The deep throbbing noise of reversing ship engines, a faint roar of cars, alerted me in the darkness of my cabin that we reached Piraeus. I open my eyes, dress, and step out in the early morning, some stars still sparkling up in the sky.