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  • A 77-year-old retiree shot himself in the head under a tree in Athens’ Syntagma Square. It was a little before 9 a.m., rush hour in the central metro hub, located on that very square. He was tired of rummaging the garbage for food and did not want to leave his daughter in debt. So said his suicide note.

    The media squabbled about the time of the suicide. It was too early in the day, some commentators thought.
    This woman must be around the dead man’s age. I saw her an hour or so after hearing the suicide news.

    It wasn’t the first time.

    A few weeks ago, she was in line at a supermarket cash register next to the one I stood at. First I saw the umbrella. Tightly tied to the cart. Inconvenient, I thought, wondering how long it would take her to unfasten it when it started raining. But then I realized that it was not there for that reason.
    Her shopping items balanced on top her cart. An economy-sized bottle of detergent hung by its handle on the umbrella. Did she really have a washer? Did she even have a home?

    People walked by and stared. She paid no attention.

    What was in that cart, something precious that she did not want to let go?

    Today I found her sitting outside a posh mall. Clad in a purple coat, too warm for the mild weather, blending into the rows of spring flowers on the photograph above her.

    She sat there, motionless, watching people walk by with shopping bags. I wanted to ask her what she was thinking, hoping it was nothing like what that man thought of earlier this morning. Maybe she was just enjoying this silent, deafening spring.
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