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I sold my child!

19 June 2009 / 14:06:35  GRReporter
4754 reads

Ivan Kolev

The desire to meet and interview a woman, who had sold her child, was haunting me for a while but when I finally got the chance, I was caught unprepared. I found it interesting to understand what kind of force is stronger than the mother instinct. How is it possible for a child to be sold by its mother in such technologically advanced society? This problem does not concern only Bulgaria. We will be wrong if we judge women who sell their children. In order for this phenomenon to exist, that means that no one has done anything to stop it. Also, why does it happen only in Southern Europe – Italy, France, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia?

We met on a December morning. At that time, the train station coffee shop had four visitors – two, not yet sober homeless people and us. I was sitting across from her, observing her carefully and not letting even the smallest gesture get out of sight, as if this was going to reveal what kind of person was sitting in front of me. And she was not more than twenty years old, with highlights in her hair. She hadn’t slept for days but her eyes did not look tired. She was expecting me to understand her and justify her actions…to recreate justice…to punish the ones responsible.

-       You are asking me what happened, so I sold my child. I will tell you, so you can write it but I do not believe you will understand me. In order to understand, you need to be inside of me, to have experienced what has passed through me.

I came to Greece four years ago with my husband and both of my brothers and their wives. We were working in the farming sector. It was during fall, when in my home village there is no work anymore. When we first came here, we were picking kiwi in a village near to Arta. After that we were picking oranges, olives, pepper … whatver we could find. We worked for many people but mostly for a guy named Elefteri. We used to sleep in a hut of his on the floor, without water or electricity. In Krushare we have a three story house, with bedrooms on each floor and furnished but for money you are forced to live like an animal. My brothers are older than me and they had worked for some years like this. After that I gave birth and my husband left alone with my brothers and their wives.

Here they call me “kiria Ana” (Mrs. Ana), because in my passport says Anita, otherwise I am Anife. Messed up. When we are here we speak Bulgarian and call each other by our Bulgarian names, because otherwise they do not want to hire us. After that I gave birth twice and my husband was coming to Greece alone – first with my brother but after that he started drinking and they did not want him anymore. He left with some other people and then disappeared.

Don’t you know where you husband is right now?

-       Some people told me he is in Greece and that they have seen him in Athens, others told me he is in Holland, because there are some people from our village there and he had also went there before we got married. I haven’t seen him for two years and a half and he hasn’t called either. They said he had married another…Maybe! I don’t know. I haven’t seen him, what can I say? We were not officially married. Even the children are not carrying his name, because this way I am registered as alone parents and I get more money.

What will happen after that?

-       I was at home until the children grew up a little bit, then I left them with some relatives and left. I had kept Elefteri’s phone number and I called him from my village. He told me to leave and that he can find me a job. At that point the borders were open, so I took the bus and on the next day I was in Arta. It was morning and Elefteri was waiting for me at the bus stop with the same pick-up truck he used to drive to work with. I had felt it before that he has a weak spot for me. He was telling to sit next to him, because I am the youngest one and he was always trying to touch me but only this, because my husband was there.

I got in the car and he drove me to a hotel. He told me that I would sleep and work there, doing laundry, helping in the kitchen. He said I would get ?600 for this. The owner, Atanasi, was a friend of his and a very good boy. He didn’t seem like a “very good boy” to me, because from the moment I met him I saw something bad in his eyes.

Elefteri left and before even changing I was already cleaning the kitchen with Atanasi’s snake sight piercing me. He didn’t speak. He looks at you with his glassy eyes and just points at the things he wants you to do. It was as if he was repulsed by me, he would come close. Everyday I was so tired I couldn’t walk. I washed so many dirty clothes and cleaned so many dirty rooms that the river under the restaurant turned black.

When it got to the point when I was thinking I would die, Elefteri came.

They sat on a table in the kitchen and I was their waitress. They ate, drank and I couldn’t even sit to rest.. it continued until midnight. They got drunk and then I slept with Elefteri. I do not remember anything. I was sleeping like a log. In the morning, when I woke up, Atanasi was next to me. I was terrified and I left the room. I wanted to leave but I have only BGN 2 in my pocket. I went on the road, outside the hotel and I tried to stop a car. I was acting like crazy and I hadn’t noticed that Atanasi was next to me, I only felt pain in my back, which restored my consciousness. He was beating me with a whip with thin ands like small snakes. I don’t know how much he had beaten me, because I had fainted from the pain. When I woke up, I was wearing other clothes and the man with the snake look was watching me. When he saw that I am awake, he shoved a bucket and a mop in my hands and left. And again I was working all day without resting. The nights it was the same. It continued like this for months.

Why didn’t you run away, the hotel was on a road and many cars were stopping by.

-       You are blaming me for not running away. I could run away but where would I go? Foreign people, foreign country…I couldn’t speak the language as well…I am not excusing myself, I could have ran away. There weren’t too many people stopping at the hotel. One day two policemen were drinking their coffees on the porch and thought about telling them but would they believe me?

What happened afterwards?

-       I got used to it. Weeks and months passed. In this life, I understood that you can get used to anything.

There were good times too. Atanasi was beating me like an animal for anything but he was good when it came to one thing. Every month he was paying a man from Dobrich, who was giving money to my mom. The man was passing by every month. He used to park his truck in front of the hotel and  sit on the porch for a coffee. Then Atanasi used to sit on the table with him, count out 6 one hundred bills and give him the phone number of my mom, written on a paper, with which he rolled the money.

I used to watch the back of this man from behind the curtain in the kitchen and I felt better. Here, tomorrow or the day after, he will be in my village and will see my children…

At the beginning of summer I found out I am pregnant.

How did Atanasi react when he found out you are pregnant?

-       He didn’t say anything but I understood that he knew. I was probably in the fourth month but he kept on beating me. Only at night, he stopped asking me to serve some of his Albanian friends. They used to pass by every week – Friday and Sunday night.

What were the Albanians working?

-       I don’t know. They used to come after midnight and stay for a while – until three, four in the morning. As if they were waiting for someone. Atanasi was speaking their language. He threatened me that before winter he will close the hotel and sell me to them. Others were passing by as well and he used to lock himself in his room with them, where they were talking about something. There were also two Bulgarian gypsies from Bourgas.

What were they walking about?

-       Nothing interesting, they were driving people from Bourgas to here for work. They were father and son.

How did you get to Athens?

-       This happened in September. My pregnancy was obvious. One night, the two Bulgarian gypsies came. Atanasi did not tell me anything. They told me to pack my stuff and leave with them. We drove all night without stopping. In the morning, we were in Athens. They left me in an apartment in the center, where there was also another woman.

Did you want to sell your child?

-       I wanted to sell it. I couldn’t go back to my village with it.

What happened after that?

-       A Greek man came, about 30 years old. His name was Niko. He told me that he had found a very rich family, which wants to buy the child. They have a big house. They also have ships and my child will have a good life there.

Did you see the people who bought your child?

-       No. when I was in the apartment in Athens I went out twice. Niko was taking me to doctors. After that he took me somewhere to sign a paper. I haven’t seen anybody else. Even in the hospital, no one came. When I left the hospital we went to that man again to sign more papers. Then, Niko gave me one thousand Euros and sent me to the bus station. He told me that the rest of the money I will receive in ten days.

How did you give away the baby?

-       On the third day after I gave birth, Niko came to the hospital and took me with the baby. When we left the hospital, he was carrying it. This is when I last saw it. He told me to wait and left me at the hospital coffee shop. He came back half an hour later without the baby.

What did you feel when you found out that you will never see it again?

-       The baby? It hurts, of course it hurts. And probably it will be this way till the end of my life. I would think of it…where is it, what it is doing. But I know that it will be better than my other kids.

Editor’s note: GRReporter has the names and address of the mother but due to ethical reasons is not publishing them.

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