Opening the Suitcase


Written by Nataliya R.*

– Good morning, I’m here to sign up on the Population Register, I said proudly as if I came to receive a scholarship for the Oxford University.
– When did the decision arrive? The voice behind the glass.
– A week ago. My voice in front of the glass.
– Oh, then no… you will come after 20 days in order for the system to get updated.

I left.

20 days later

– Good morning, I came to sign up on the Population Register, I sounded timid now, as if I was signing up for a lesser category… Cambridge for example.
– … (we stare at each other)
– Twenty days have passed after the receiving of the decision, I said even though no one asked.
– Okay, give me what you’ve got.

I pass over the decision.

– What else you got?
– What else you need?
– Passport, residence permit… are you married?
– Yes I am, I said while getting ready to defend myself.
– Any little ones?
– Not yet, I smiled and calmed down a bit.
– And how can we be sure about that?

My jaw dropped.

– What do you mean?
– I mean that we need a copy of your husband’s family share, which shows if you have children or not.
– Good afternoon and goodbye.

I left.

10 days later

– Good morning, I came to sign up on the Population Register, this time I sounded as if I was making a question… sign up to the Population Register?
– Passport, residence permit… are you married?
– And this is the family share, I responded as a hyperactive nerd in the first row of the classroom, and I have no children.
– Where are you from?
– Ukraine.
– Okay, you shall bring me a certification that you don’t have children in Ukraine either.
– Where from?
– I don’t know, from your competent authority. Translated and validated in Greek.
– Good afternoon and good bye.

I left.

Next day first thing in the morning I went to Philothei

Right before me, there was a woman who in seven different countries she had seven different surnames and on that day, she decided to make them all one, that of her family name. Difficulty level of the case: over 900. A calm and methodically voice explained to her the procedure, which I’m sure was being made up in that very moment. When the methodical voice guided the seven-surnames-lady to fill out a pile of documents, I got in front of the glass with the leftovers I had as my Russian language.

– Good morning, I would like to receive a certification which states that I do not have any offspring in Ukraine, of course.

I was proud as a peacock, where did I find these nice words to express myself in Ukrainian, I congratulated myself!

– What?!

Okay, I’ll take it down a notch.

– I want a document which states that I don’t have any children in my country.
– Well, do you have any?
– No.
– Well there you go, so what do you want from us?
– To give me a certificate on that.
– Why, aren’t you sure?

My cognitive system got stuck for a bit.

– They are asking for it in the City Hall to go on with my signing up in the Population Register.
– Miss, I don’t know what they’ve been asking you to do, but we do not have the database to check this and there is not even a form for such kind of document. But, tell me again, what do you need this for?
– I acquired the Greek citizenship and from the City Hall they are asking me for this document to move on with the procedure.
– Oh, that’s nice. Before you leave, please pass over to us your Ukrainian Passport, we do not accept a double citizenship.
– But I don’t have my Greek documents yet.
– Didn’t you acquire the Greek Citizenship?
– I got a positive decision, I don’t actually have the citizenship yet.
– So you do not need the Ukrainian passport.
– I need it, I don’t have another one.
– Where is the logic in that?
– I’ve no idea, if you find any, let me know. Good bye to you.

I took my bag, my coat, held the passport tight and left the building.

On the same day in the City hall

– Good morning, I came to sign up on the Population Register.

This time, another employee was watching me from the other side.

– Passport, residence permit, I started my monologue since the procedure was well known by now for me, I am married, I don’t have children, this is the family share, I don’t have a certification by the Embassy, they told me it is not needed…

The employee was taking one by one the documents I was handing over to her… until she stopped and starred at me.

– We do not need such a certification by the Embassy, she said calmly with a question on her face.

My brain cells set themselves on fire all together, but my face did not move, not even to a minimum, so I kept on listening to her with a complete poker face.

– …but you will have to go to the municipality where the wedding took place, where you will change your citizenship and that’s it. We are done.

I leave, I take a taxi, I go to Argyroupoli, I change my credentials, I go back to the Kotzia Square, behind the glass there was the other lady again, just like Cerberus in the gates of Hades.

– Good morning, I came to sign up on the Population Register.

Everything surrounding me was like I entered a new level of Resident Evil in VR format, in other words, I had no idea what to expect.

– I started the procedures with another lady and THIS is the only thing that was missing, I said implying some things, which -from what I got- I was the only one who understood them.

She took the document I was talking about and put it together with the others, she started checking if everything was there. While she was browsing though my fears I was building up the courage to go in each corner of Athens she would say I should go, but an end was going to be put that very day to the whole thing.

– Everything is here, said the Cerberus and one of her three heads winked at me.
– Can you hear me? The employee kept going until my fantasy resolved, you will come in twenty days to receive your new documents.

Twenty days later, in front of another counter

– Hi there, I came to receive this, I said and pushed forward my little paper.
– I cannot seem to find it, please go to the counter you applied.

I went there filled with fear.

– They cannot seem to find my folder, I said completely lost and passed over the same little paper.

The employee got up, walked to the next counter, then to the one after that, then she gave the little paper to another employee, who also went to the counter next of hers and all of them together were walking from office to office, counter to counter, unable to find what they were looking for.

– Please come back tomorrow.

Tomorrow came, I went, I took, and I left.

End of level: Town Hall. Next level: Police

After I googled what was needed to issue an ID card after acquiring the Greek citizenship and found nothing (apart from a forum saying to pass by Petrou Ralli), I went to the 4th floor of the police station.

– Good morning, I’m here to issue an ID card, my words were coming from another life.
– Good morning, please come inside, the police officer responded as if he was coming from another dimension.

We filled in the needed documents, we talked, we joked, we told off the witness for being late… I was in the police department without being afraid and I was now talking to a person and not a scary uniform.

After checking all my credentials, all my fears flushed down the machine which was making my ID card in plastic. From the other side there was my ticket for a new life.

I took my ID card, I thanked the police officer, I took my friend Stratos by the arm and walked out of the police station as a citizen of the country that raised me, as a citizen of Greece. Somewhere in the middle of Korai Square I held my head high, under the sun. I smiled. The suitcases come in handy, but only to travel with, as a free person. Cause this is what freedom smells like.

Game over

* This article is the second part of the article written by the same person, 3 years ago. “Hidden away with the suitcases“.