Debt: Uknown Artist

Last summer a well-respected small business entrepreneur and father of Helectra, a 23 year old student of philosophy,  went bankrupt and shortly after he hanged himself with a cable tied to a tall “tsounati” olive tree, in the property inherited from his father, on the island of Crete. 

When she was asked whether she had any idea that her father would take this step to the very end, Helectra did not think before answering. There had been signs. Shortly before his death, he signed over to her the house they lived and her grandfather’s property with the ancient olives trees. “He was suddenly in such a hurry,” she says, but she wouldn’t understand why. 

Now both she knows and she owes the house and the property but she cannot tell how she’s going to pay the “haratsi”, this new tax imposed by the government on small, non yielding property, such as her diseased father signed over.

On that same day I was reading Helectra’s story, that is a few days ago, the police received another emergency call. It was on the news: A 61-year-old man has hanged himself from a tree in a park, not far from his house. He was a marine who had recently lost his job and was too old to find a new one. 

All his savings were spent. He couldn’t support anymore his divorced daughter with that infant and the dog. His body was discovered only in the morning but he hung himself the afternoon before. 

Having the head in the clouds,  I see now the red-and-white strip of the plastic “crime scene” tape, still hanging and flapping, ripped by the winter wind and the heavy rain. 

In front of me, on the table the newspaper wide open, the language of headlines: The number of people in Greece trying to kill themselves is rising as economic crisis deepens, according to official figures”.


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