Note: The following story has been translated from my Greek book ‘From Cape Town to Alexandria’ narrating an overland trip from side to side of the African Continent.
Finally, the time had come to get going from there and head towards new places. The sun had set for some time already; the electricity was back on; and in about half an hour, I must have been at the station, when and whence my bus was to depart. The station was on the other side of the city, and I had phoned a guy to come and pick me up with the piki piki. At that time, while I was waiting outside the door, it was that the guy who was the guard at the inn approached me. It was a low-budget, unfenced inn; it was only that guy who was serving there as a guard, unarmed.
He was a calm and genial bloke, around sixty years of age. His physical robustness and his tough facial features testified the vigor that must have once pervaded his youth. He was only showing up in the garden in the evenings. He was sitting quietly in a corner, and only after everybody had left, he was covering himself with a rough blanket and was falling asleep on the couch. We’d never talked much with each other. He would only greet me cordially every time we met; in a way that manifested a man who loves life. Late in the evenings, I would also be sitting in some corner of the garden, captivated by the magic of the broad sky, playing some melancholy tune on the guitar and singing on a low and doleful voice. Now and again, I would arrest his flashing eyes staring at me; thereupon he would give me a perturbed smile and turn his gaze either to the ground or to the sky.
So, while I was standing and waiting on the pavement, he approached me. “You’re leaving, eh?” says he. “Yes, I’m waiting for the piki piki to take me to the bus,” I respond. “No, you don’t need a motorcycle. Let’s walk to the station together,” he told me in an earnest tone, while at the same time he ventured with zeal to shoulder my stuff. I stopped him, however, and explained to him that there is no need to do that since we do not have enough time, anyway. This behavior of his surprised me because he was a proud man and I had never seen him engaging in beggarish errands. But what surprised me the most – and shocked me – was the incident that followed.
The piki piki came, he helped me with fervor to load the luggage, and at the moment the piki piki guy throttled the bike up, he said to me in a voice that manifested some inner sob: “I will miss you, young man.” I managed to observe his face for two moments before we drew away into the darkness. These two moments, however, were more than enough to allow me to discern a soul scream that found its way out of him in the form of a tear from his bulging eyes. That scream managed to invade my own soul, which I felt it being pricked by it, since it was reproduced inside of it boosted in waves, and I could not understand it. It only broke off when we reached the bus, where I started to deal with ‘how are we going to fit in there’ and such things. So I forgot for the moment what had just gone by.
We started and I stuck my face against the window to be looking at and farewell one by one the city’s dark streets we were passing by. We left behind us the last ones of them, and we took the way to the unknown. It was then that I turned my gaze to the infinite sky, and I saw in it again those bulging eyes; and I heard from within me again that scream. But this time it was converted into speech, a passionate speech; and I understood it; and it said: “Live! Live young man! The time is passing. Live now, today! Live every day, every moment! Live intensively! Live courageously! Live mercilessly! Live audaciously! Defy the time! Defy death! Defy God! Defy the existence! Defy your life! Live, I’m telling you! Live forever! Grab that bitch, life, by the hair and drag her through the mud! Flip the whole world over and turn the universe upside-down! LIVE! LIVE! LIVE!”