This is going to be heavy, as in Eastern European heavy… because bad stuff can happen.
Let me talk about repressed memories.
This happened a long time ago, when I became good friends with Juli.
The short version is: Brazilian dude, barely knew his name, tried to commit suicide, with a knife.
It was crazy, as the poor guy lost his marbles completely. It had something to do with religion (Catholicism), but the thing that got me was that we couldn’t reach him.
He was so gone on a bad trip that nobody could reach him.
Something about the God of punishment, mercy, mercy. Misericordia, in Portuguese, which I don’t really speak or understand.
When I got there, nobody could speak with him.
It was the first time in my life to meet somebody (sober) I cannot have a dialogue with.
People around him told me that he tried to hurt himself and/or others, but I just couldn’t grasp it because he was so shut-in when I arrived on the scene.
Anyway, before we got him back into his room, we tried to remove all the sharp objects, knives and scissors. However, nobody noticed this big container full of knives, which was not in the kitchen, but on some shelves where usually people keep clothes or books.
For hours on end we all sat on the bed and we tried to talk him into sleeping (he hadn’t slept for 3-4 days, apparently), then all of a sudden this guy tries to jump out of the window, so we jump him and everybody is in a pile on the floor.
This was when I noticed that he was holding a typical kitchen knife and while we’re all trying to figure out (“Where did that come from?”), he was actually trying to stab himself.
So I grab the knife, right? Normal reaction. But I didn’t have any place to grab except the blade because he’s (stubbornly) holding the handle.
I mean, this guy cannot be reached, he just tried to jump out of the window from the fourth floor.
Through the window, as it was closed.
Me and Julian holding him down… Juli got bitten: My good friend holding him in a (very approximate) chokehold and, even though he was wearing a leather jacket, he got bitten through, a continuous, prolonged sort of bite, which left scars through the leather jacket.
I had a Mohawk at that time…
The guys from the ambulance were convinced I had stabbed him. So I tried to explain:
“Dude, no! I tried to stop it. That’s why I’m bleeding. If I wanted to stab him, I wouldn’t be holding the blade. I was holding the blade out of him.”
I had to take out my health insurance card as I’m sitting in the ambulance holding my fingers up because I’m bleeding from every finger, and I’m bleeding over my insurance card…
Me and Juli, what a champion, what a team of champions… I knew him from before, but that’s when we became best friends, as we’re sitting outside the doctor’s cabinet the following morning and trying to make sense of all that.
Eastern European bad: After I got the knife away from him (which was too late unfortunately, I didn’t know aikido at that time), he tried to pull out parts of his body, by which I mean parts in the stomach region, you can fantasise from that…
It was intense.
This was happening on the university campus, in one of the dorms, and we had asked for help, but they send these teachers who were totally unprepared, poor guys, they just froze, because it was bad, Eastern European bad.
This may sound very shocking to you, but imagine it happening on a daily basis:
Maybe you live in a Middle Eastern country where bombs or missiles explode nearby…
Why did this guy try to kill himself? God knows.
Whose god? His god, he had a dialogue with his god.
We cannot know what it went like, but I had a dialogue with my god (=reason) and I can tell you that he was right to stop.
I don’t know how much we stopped him and how much he stopped himself, at some point.
He came back, he’s alive (as far as I know), he recovered from the knife wounds.
Am I a bad person for not thinking more about this guy? For refusing a dialogue with him? I’m still not sure; it was an overwhelming experience, which I could barely handle, cut myself pretty bad. I hope I can use aikido next time, to get the knife before the cutting begins…
Another time, I was 18, climbing a chain of mountains in Romania with another guy (good ol’ Baza), sleeping in a tent for a week, when we got attacked by dogs, shepherd dogs…
The wind was blowing the wrong way, apparently (so the dogs couldn’t sniff us coming).
In our 70 km crossing of this mountain range (it’s called Fagaras), a 70 km-long ridge, we occasionally met people, especially shepherds with their sheep dogs. For the first 3-4 days we were okay, even though we crossed paths with dozens of flocks.
Now you have to understand: These shepherds, because they live in this area where there are wolves and bears, they train their dogs to be fearless and ferocious if they think there’s a danger to the flock. These poor animals are totally driven mad with so much violence, they’re treated quite vilely.
Most of their experience consists of fighting (or being prepared to fight) with bears and wolves.
Can you imagine that kind of life?
These dogs attacked us, so we sat down, because that’s what everybody says you should do:
This had worked with the all the other flocks when the dogs could sniff us from afar, but this time it was different, we were already too close to the flock.
As we’re sitting down and trying not to panic with the dogs barking and circling us, I had my hand on my knife but I was very conscious that I’d get killed way before I could even hurt any of these dogs.
There’s no way that I’m going to survive an attack by these sheep-guarding dogs.
They bit our backpacks, from behind. We later discovered they bit through a rolled-up mat and took a great portion of (what I assume to be) very bland-tasting rubber sponge.
“Keep your hands close to your body, so they don’t get bit off”
Thank God the shepherd came and he managed to chase them off by beating them. Then, the same shepherd is asking us
“Hey, do you guys have batteries or cigarettes (you can spare)?”
All we could say is
“Man, we almost got killed, we’re just children, we’re not trying to steal your sheep. Train the dogs to separate between wolves or bears and humans before somebody gets killed”.
[Incidentally, people (especially tourists) do get bitten and/or killed in the mountains in Romania and there are photos of the aftermath at the starting point of many a trail. These photos were flashing through my mind as the dogs surrounded us.]
This experience has dramatically changed my view of Romania as the land of the sheep.
Miorita, (=The wee sheep) our favourite folk ballad.
|Pe-un picior de plaiPe-o gura de raiIata vin in cale
Se cobor la vale
Trei turme de miei
Cu trei ciobanei.
Si unu-i vrancean.
|Near a low foothillAt Heaven’s doorsill,Where the trail’s descending|
|„Pe-un picior de plai / Pe-o gura de rai”… Macar suntem optimisti, stii?Si cum se termina balada? „Ca la nunta meaA cazut o stea;
Soarele si luna
Mi-au tinut cununa.
Brazi si paltinasi
I-am avut nuntasi,
Preoti, muntii mari”
De ce uitam? Poate ca noua, romanilor, ne place sa prescurtam, sa sarim la concluzie: „La nunta mea a cazut o stea” ca o sa ma omoare astelalti…
Cum arata acest univers (unde murim cu totii)?
„Pe-un picior de plai
Pe-o gura de rai”…
|“Near a low foothill / At Heaven’s doorsill”…At least we’re optimists… And how does the ballad end?“At my wedding, tellHow a bright star fell,
Sun and moon came down
To hold my bridal crown,
Firs and maple trees
Were my guests; my priests
Were the mountains high“
Why do we forget? Maybe we, Romanians, like to abbreviate, to jump ahead to the conclusion: “A bright star fell at my wedding” because these other shepherds are going to kill me…
How does this universe (where we all die) look like?
“Near a low foothill
At Heaven’s doorsill”…