June 15, 2022

''The masks have fallen'' Photo-Episode B, pt.3

The indeterminate figure approached her, sitting by her side. Her facial features were absent. In their place there was a void instead. An empty anthropomorphic canvas, a terrifyingly scarce image. Uneasiness came over Rosalia. Blurred thoughts overwhelmed her. Questions danced in her mind in a state of utter frenzy. A foray of speculations and queries kept battling in her mind. Trying to overcome her panic, Rosalia broke down.

Drowning in salty tears, she wanted to get up, to leave, but her attempts were met with no success, her feet failing to comply. She was struggling to get up but something was keeping her tethered to the ground. A river of tears was frantically running down her cheeks, covering her face. Her lips kept forming words, but no sound was coming out. Her throat was swollen. The soft breeze, the rustling of leaves and Rosalia’s sobs were the only sounds in the boundless field. Not for long though. Before Rosalia had even begun to fully comprehend the situation, the figure spoke.

“Welcome Rosalia.”

Silence spread across the meadow. The breeze caressing her cheek with such softness ceased, taking her sole consolation along with it.

“Where am I? What’s going on?”, it took all the courage she possessed to utter a whisper.

“You didn’t come this far to graze the surface. What matters isn’t where you are or what’s going on. Words matter. Choices matter.”

The ardor and hue of the figure’s voice carried a gravitas unlike anything Rosalia had heard before. Yet she couldn’t tell whether it belonged to a woman or a man.

“I don’t understand what you mean.”

She raised her voice, her last and only way of defense now. She tried to rise once more, while looking at her companion where their eyes should’ve been. For a moment she tried to guess what they could be. A human or an entity beyond her understanding? But her thoughts were interrupted.

“You are here by choice. You can’t get up because you know perfectly well that if you do your questions will remain unanswered. You didn’t leave the theatre. You walked the path in the forest, you listened to the masks. You’re sitting here with me, in this unorthodox setting. Why is that?”

She flinched in panic, her face distorted. Determined to calm down, she took a deep breath and examined her surroundings. An open field, painted with the most vivid shade of green, bathed in sunlight. The messages of the masks kept replaying in her mind. The masks, the messengers of truth, the symbol of her awakening, they were all there with them, cold and confined inside the box. The gentle breeze whistled once more, drying her tears and giving her some much needed comfort. She was warmly embraced by sunlight, rekindling the faith in herself, as if all of nature was spurring her last step. All of a sudden, everything emerged into her mind: the words of Mr Nektarios, those first signs of concern in the theatre, the messages of the masks. Rosalia was faced with a truth that, much as she avoided, she longed to learn.

“I’m here because of my friends.” There was confidence in her words, a welcome acceptance for Rosalia.

The figure nodded. It was almost as if a faint smile of agreement appeared on her blank face.

“Such an important thing, friendship. It has a philosophical note. Philosophers and common people have tried to decode it. Many have failed. They lost sight of its meaning in the process. The naked truth is that it’s love which forms the basis of friendship. In theory, we all know this. But our wish for love prevents us from distinguishing the right friends from the fake ones, the true from the false. We don’t know how friendship must truly be expressed. That’s the problem. We accept what we think is love to fill our own void. We don’t question it.”

“A true friend makes the choice to love you. They choose to trust you, to dedicate their time to you based on mutual affection. They won’t ask for anything, other than the love and support you can offer. They’re not here for what they can gain from you nor will they betray you.”

“Betrayal makes an appearance upon a lack of empathy. A bitter comment, a ripped page. You know that better than me. Years of rejection, of abusing one’s kindness, of stomping on one’s tolerance; such are its symptoms. Don’t betray yourself by rejecting your own needs. Don’t blame yourself for your naivete, it’s precious. Your feelings are shaped by positive and negative memories. Treasure each one of them. You’ll know which feelings are worth reigniting with other people and which ones you should avoid.”

“Most people choose and maintain their friendships because of a shared past. But we must also consider whether there is a shared future with these people. Some friendships run their course. The memories remain. Friends come into your life for unknown reasons. You will be thankful to have known them. You will look from afar and be happy with their success and their journey. In the end, you’ll have become a better person thanks to them, thanks to everything they have offered you.” “A life without friends is no life to live. You’ll be sailing in troubled waters with no companions to help you row. I want you to take a look at your life and ask yourself: do I have real friends?”

All of a sudden, there was a rampant sound of applause echoing and shadows seemed to swallow everything around them. The trees, the picnic basket, the colorful blanket and the rest of the field melted into a whirl of darkness. The last image imprinted in Rosalia’s eyes was her companion applauding her. Cheers, applause, bright lights, masks and bowing actors in a symphony of entangled sounds and images were swirling Rosalia, drifting her rampantly.

With her eardrums ready to burst and her eyes unable to decipher what they were seeing, Rosalia was back on her red velvet seat at the Royal Theatre. No gaze was fixed on her, she could feel no criticism pummeling her, no sound of laughter. She turned her head and examined the theatre carefully. Her friends had never shown up. A sudden feeling of calm ran over her, like an electric current. She breathed a sigh of relief and smiled widely. She was feeling reborn. No longer adrift, Rosalia joined the rejoicing and cheered with enthusiasm. The actors left the stage and the performance was over. She slowly rose from her seat and looked one last time at the closed theatre drapes. With a thankful nod she bid the place that gave her the chance to learn the truth farewell. She climbed the stairs without looking back. She had learnt her lesson.


Photography by the Photography Team of TEDxAUTH 2022 #PHOTOEPISODES

Traianos Kouvatsis

He studies Journalism in AUTH and he is part of the Blog team (not a cliché at all). Constantly anxious and addicted to coffee (that’s to blame), he spends his time watching reruns of Arrested Development, listening to irrelevant podcasts and avoiding the urban transport of Thessaloniki. His music varies from Biggie to Sondheim and everything in between. Call him “Try” next time you’ll meet him, although he won’t listen to you due to his headphones.

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Vasileia Gioti

English Literature undergrad with more dreams than she can handle. Passionate feminist growing more cynical by the day, and defender of the Oxford comma. Lover of fantasy novels, Greek poetry, Jane Austen, and Argentine rock music– her tastes are almost as chaotic as her mind! Dreams of travelling, connecting with women from every corner of the world, and listening to their stories.

Panagiota Katsaveli (she/her)

Born and raised in Kilkis, but her imagination has convinced her that she has lived in many countries around the world. Spends most of her free time watching TV shows, while adopting the personality and behavior of her favorite characters. The combination of perfectionism and laziness that characterize her will eventually be her destruction. Chocolate, wine, coffee and pizza is what she is made of.

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Samuel Pechlivanis-Olagoke

Born and raised in London, his life story has seen him move to Canada, Cyprus, and now Greece. Supposedly he studies medicine but most of his time is spent discovering the hidden gems thessaloniki has to offer, such as cool cafes or cheesecake bakeries, and reminiscing his childhood through finding the snacks he grew up with at the pantopoleio.

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