I once wrote a story with this title. It seemed so appropiate at that time. It even had some drawings. I was in the seventh grade, my legs were even skinnier and my chin down to the ground. I was feeling sorry for myself everday and excusing myself for who I was. Everybody’s doing this here, saying they’re sorry, acting like their presence should always be excused, like they don’t deserve being anywhere.
Then there are those people who feel their presence is a blessing for everyone else, pushing their elbows and screeching voices, pushing their lives deep inside yours, living you breathless, without the strength of kicking them out. At your diaspproval they’d act surprised, like you were the first abuser. Like the homeless family last night, who was asking me for money and was offended by my gesture of moving away for them. They followed me and shouted : But we didn’t do anything! ….they didn’t understand the abuse and I…I was weak again, I was afraid again and I lied, I said I didn’t feel abused, I said I was waiting for someone…I should’ve shouted, I should’ve kicked, I shouldn’t have let them inside like I did. I hate them for that, I hate myself for that.
I’ve always found it profoundly disturbing to have to tell someone that what they’re doing is terribly wrong and I’ve always ended not saying anything.
I promised I’d never do this again but I live in a city where shutting up keeps you going, being quiet is a way of getting by…where talking can only bring more abuse and more fright, where tall dirty people grin and make you apologize. I’ve met some people this weekend for whom being afraid is never a solution. Who stand up straight no matter how tall is the shadow of the person in front of them. They stand up straight and know when there’s nothing they need to feel sorry for.
There’s something about abuse that makes you feel like you deserve being treated that way and you freeze, you act like there’s something you’ve done that has brought this upon you. You almost say “I’m sorry for being in your way.”
There was a man on the street. There was a girl on the street wearing white short pants.
He cornered her, made her feel cheap,
he acted like it was his right to express himself so vulgarly
and she shouted, she fought back, she threatened to call the police.
He got mad, he spit on her and came so close.
He didn’t even touch her but she felt weak,
she couldn’t do anything except hold her chin as low as possible.
That girl is me, that man is every kind of abuser in this city, in this world,
that man still exists because girls like me and girls like you never do anything about it.
I want to hold my chin up high.
photography by Doru Moraru