"We were marching silently in the night. Argyris was walking by my side.
We had agreed to walk together. What a joy to have found Argyris the very last minute. We were
class-mates, he had my age -at least I wouldn't be the only one of my class.
[...]-Are they going to shoot us, Ilias?...
He was shaking a lot. It must have been from the morning cold.
-Don't talk, says I.
He was equally worried as everybody else in the basement: "In what way?;"As if
we were afraid to touch death directly and were going in circles around
his tough body until we reached it.
The soldiers next to us were staring at us with wild looks, silent like the night.
[...]-Do you know how long have we been marching?, asks a voice quietly from behind.
-It must be two hours, says another voice.
-How long is it till dawn?
-I don't know. Why?
If we survive the night...we may not be killed....
[...] We started begging inwardly to not stop. A deep desire weighed
heavy upon our tired members: "To sit! To
sit!" But the hot blood running darkly in our veins
reacted like burnt iron- it did not want to coagulate.
We stop, to the command, abruptly. A sudden grip inside me makes me spin!
-Ilias!....mutters Argyris. Ilias they are going to kill us!...
The soldiers make a circle around us. Some ten metres away. They order us
We sat. In front of us was a mother with a small child.
It was asleep.
[...] We were staring dumb towards the side of the circle. We were waiting with
eyes wide open. By instinct I try to see if there is any hole in the earth to hide, a place to get
away and run. But it was a barren hill, and around us the circle impenetrable.
I close my eyes. I wait for a second, two. Now....Now!...
-Look! Where are they taking them? I hear Argyris' voice.
I open my eyes startled. Two fellows from the first rank barely distinguishable.
They were coming down the hill. Two soldiers were following them. In a while
they were lost from sight.
-This is it then, not all together...
We have pricked our ears anticipating a scream. Nothing!
In a while they took two more. [...] Slowly-slowly it was our turn. They were taking
two or three, as it came. I see Argyris being dragged by my side. I get up unconsiously
but I was not taken. They took me in the next turn after a few minutes. I was walking
and was looking at my side when they would attack. Nothing. We were moving on. We have come
down the hill, when I started making out some white things moving a bit further down. Soft
murmurs. We stopped.
-Tsikar! (take it off) say the soldiers pointing at our coats.
I didn't understand but I saw the other two they caught who were undressing. I started
myself to undress. "Tsikar! tsikar!" the soldiers were shouting all the time. We took off
our jackets without a word, then the trousers, the shoes, the socks. When we had nothing
on but the vest and the underpants, they pushed us towards the white shadows
murmuring farther on.
I was lost, I didn't know who I was. I shout softly:
A voice, a small sound. Argyris, himself naked, falls on me.
-Ilias!.....Ilias!...You see, we are alive! You see...
We embrace each other for this unexpected joy.
[...]-You know what this is? we hear a frozen voice next to us,
so frozen that nobody dares answer it.
-So...The "white death"! Who will endure it?
[...] October is almost over.
We marched all day in the Ayiasmat road. There, beyond the salt lakes,
for one instant one soldier noticed Argyris' shoes. He told him to take them off. He took
them off. The soldier tried them on. They fitted him. The soldier kept them, threw his own
to Argyris. They were some huge old boots, cut in half - they must have been very large
even for the soldier.
-Take one, says my friend. If I wear both, they may take them from me.
He took the left one, myself the other one.
We were almost happy all day long because we haven't died. We thought of nothing.
Towards evening we have been wearied. But we wouldn't say it."
From: I. Venezis, To Noumero 31328, Athens, Estia editions, 1978, pp.