HE.S.T.A.F.T.A. - Scientific Society of Mental Health Professionals


  • Marianna TziantziArchitect, Writer

Early hours, 17 November. After the invasion of army tanks in the Polytechnic School, and the university evacuation, my friend and fellow student Olga and I spent the night on the stairs of an apartment building around Zaimi Street. It was time to go home. The apartment where I lived with my older brother was a little further up, on a perpendicular street on Alexandras Avenue, the Autokratoron Angelon Street.

         I arrived at my home and I saw into the two rooms almost the entire family from Crete, my mother’s side, squeezed with my fellow student, Vivi Fotopouloy, and her boyfriend, Charilaos. Both had their faces smeared with Vaseline, to neutralize the tear gas. Tears of joy, kisses, “you live, you are alive”.

         In the same apartment, the night of Friday to Saturday (17 November), they had listened to the radio station of the Polytechnic. They heard the shots, while from the narrow balcony they saw the tanks descending on Alexandras Avenue. Some neighbors spotted them from afar, some others from very close, down by the avenue. Among them my brother, in the second defiance act of his life.

         Among the small crowd was our landlady, who lived in the same building, a policeman’s wife who had also spent the night there waiting for my return. A nice middle-aged woman. Red nails, dyed blonde hair, I don’t remember anything about her, not even her name. She moved towards me to hug me, and I pulled back. In her face, I saw “the cop’s wife”, I saw the gray uniform. Of course, my uncles said he was not a Security cop, he worked at the Piraeus Traffic Police and was a man of democratic ideas. Much like in the German Occupation, many people used to say that the Austrian soldiers were not like the Germans.

         But this was not time for such distinctions. I want to believe that my spontaneous pull (rather than an obvious repulsion) would have gone unnoticed, or they would have attributed it to fatigue, sleeplessness, and shock. After all, the expression “give me a hug” had not yet been established in Greek culture.

         It’s been 50 years, and that lady probably won’t be alive, but even if she is, it would be impossible for her to remember an incident that only lasted a few seconds. But I am burdened by that refusal, that “no” addressed to the wrong person. Because the era was beginning when the students were the pampered children of society, the ones who tried to pull the snake out of the hole. But this era did not last long. The times have come when the “good student” is the one who only cares about studies and career, while disobedience and university occupations are identified as the so-called anarchy.

Read the next article:

ARTICLE 11/ ISSUE 23, October 2023

What is vagotonia

Niki Troullinou, Author
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