"Eros" leaves the void

 December 19th, 2017

Almost an alcoholic after his parents, thanks to his mates a junkie. An orphan, without education and money, taken to the shelter. How much am I worth? Nothing much - I summarized my 21 years. And then I got up from the bench which was hot from the July sun, went to the nearest building, climbed to the third floor, stood in the window frame and jumped. Now I'm in a wheelchair and I wonder why I was so stupid and if there is anything wise I am to do with myself now.


Welcome to my "fairy tale"

The room is 12 sq. m. There is a bed under one of the walls. Big, stable, rehabilitation, with special equipment, so that I can lie on it and get out of it myself. Every day, I make the bed nicely, but it still reminds me of the hospital. Above the bed there is an unmanly picture with three dolls drawn as if by a child's hand. On another wall, a built-in wardrobe with stapled cartons, bags and clothes. Mainly open hooded sweatshirts and tracksuits. Jeans, racket pants and shirts with a collar I like, but I rarely wear them. It is harder for me to put them on and take off. 

There is a door in the third wall. Rarely opened by family and friends. They have little time, and I do not have chairs or armchairs so that they can sit with me a little longer. In the fourth wall a window. Decorated with curtains identical to the ones in the other rooms. Behind the glass, the view of a warehouse. A potted flower on the window sill. "Take care of it as you would of us," said a friend, handing it to me. The flower grows soothing eyes with lush greenery. Under the window, on the desk, finally a piece of my world. A computer with headphones and a microphone. Here, I create my rhythmical rap lyrics with point tact.

The room is not mine. It belongs to the Social Welfare Home in Żarów near Wrocław. They took me in, took care of me. I'm grateful, but excuse me - I cannot call this room my home. Home was somewhere else.



"(...) It's hard to imagine what happened in this life

Where parents relied only on drinking (...) "*

Polkowice - the center of the Polish copper basin. An apartment on the fifth floor of a skyscraper. In it, my father, for whom my mother is his second wife, and us - the older brother, me and the younger sister – are just other children. Half brothers and sisters are like siblings. From the apartment, we all escape to a colorful plot of land with a barbecue grate. I run to the yard. To the sandbox, to games with childish scenarios in which the heroes are those items that we have at hand. The benches are used for goals and the bottles filled with sand serve for the balls, which must be traversed on the lawn, because if they fall onto the sidewalk, they are "a miss". We "convert" bicycles to motorcycles, and soldiers to brave paratroopers. 

I force myself to go back from the yard to my house. For a cold dinner, quarrels and rows of drunk parents, broken glass and a sister clinging to me with fear. Dad is no longer working after the mine accident. Mum does not either any more. We maintain on our father's annuities. One day people from social welfare take us away from our "failing parents". I am 10 years old and together with my 4-year-old sister I go to an orphanage. She is lucky. There are quickly those who are eager to "take her home". They do not want me, but they ask my permission. I nod my head. Let my sister at least have a normal home. 



"(...) He is not ashamed of the fact,

that he lived through something you did not experience buddy (...) "*

I spend four years in the orphanage. Then I "do" four socio-therapeutic centers. Because I steal, I curse, I persuade my mates to do evil. I do not accept this explanation. I am only responsible for my own sins. The caring system is relieved on my 18th birthday. "You are an adult. Now, take care of yourself on your own. " 

I go back to my mother. The apartment on the fifth floor is gone. There is also no brother who "had gone on his own" and a father who had passed away forever. There is a mother who forces herself to the next rehab therapies, so right after  them she can drink another bottle for the victory over her weakness. And there are smaller and smaller apartments, to which we move, to pay off siblings from their father's legacy. After a few months of wandering, my mother with a devastated liver joins my father. What I have after them are poor memories, photos and survivors' pensions. 

The money gives me illusory strength, a sense of domination. I realize my dumbest idea – I give up  school to work. I have a 1,000-zloty pension, a flat and a dream that I will open my own studio to record rap. A few years earlier a friend puts a microphone in my hand and I catch the rhythm that blends with the strokes of my heart. Scene, lights, applause do not attract me. I write lyrics to sing people what I cannot tell them. The title of the first song is "Emptiness". Not mine, but my cousin’s dumped suddenly by a girl. I set the song on youtube. I'm drunk with the first success - over 1,000 people click "Emptiness". My yard mates give me a nickname. I sign Eros. I do not know why? Am I supposed to be so amorous ...? Or maybe just from my name - Eryk. 


"(...) He carefully concealed his fear and tears under the mask

He carefully cheated himself and his relatives (...) "*


The street world draws me in. I wander around it with "stoned" with marijuana, bemused by increasingly harder drugs drunk with alcohol. Real experiences mix with devilish visions. I'm terrified of both. I start to believe in things and situations that do not exist. People say I'm crazy. Doctors that this is schizophrenia. And I call it instilling untruth. A psychiatric hospital is going to help me get rid of the fear. 

The money from Social Insurance Institution is not enough for me any more. I sell my apartment. It's not hard to fool me, so people take the opportunity. I get half of what I deserve for my last roof over my head. I lock myself in a rented room. If I leave it, it's only for strangers. I do not think about the family. 

The street, people, alcohol, drugs cost more and more. The landlady throws me out when I start to default on the rent. "I hug" to similar shipwrecked people in the shelter. One July day I leave to try to get something at the office. Halfway there I sit on the bench. I'm not worth anything - I summarize my 21 years. And then I go to the nearest house, climb to the third floor, stand in the window frame and jump. 



"(...) Leave the house and see more than you have before

Each of us has suffered harm in life (...) "*

I faint in flight. I cannot remember hitting the sidewalk and traveling by rescue helicopter. I wake up in a hospital in Wrocław. First thought: damn, I have survived after all... I don’t call my flight: suicide. I call it: an accident. Something that suddenly gets us, is not conscious, thoughtful and calculated. People say that if I had wanted to die, I would have jumped from the 10th floor, not the third. For them it was an act of despair, a cry for help. For me - a way to punish myself for everything that I had done. 

Doctors do not have to make me realize. I do not feel my legs and hands. I just know I will not walk again. Such professional terms as: spinal cord disruption and quadriplegia I get to know later. After two months of lying flat, I sit on a wheelchair. From Wrocław, I am transported to Wołów, so I can get used to the wheelchair. Brothers and sisters come by. A tutor from the orphanage pays a visit. They bring rescue - information about the Academy of Life, Doctor Piotr Janaszek PAY IT FARWARD Foundation in Konin. 


"(...) I am here today, brother, so that you could understand

  that you really can carry it (...) "*.


In the Academy of Life, I am not easy on them. I reach Konin in a phase of rebellion against reality. The rules constrict me, I break them at every step. I run away from decisions and responsibility for myself. They all say: so gifted, it's a pity that he is so recalcitrant. I admire the patience of people from the Academy – care takers, assistants, specialists in every area of life. I admire the fact that they set me up mentally and make me sit on the wheelchair firmly. They teach how to get on it, sit steadily, do not fall, when spastic muscles begin to tremble violently, overcome flat surfaces and unexpected thresholds, and leave it to rest. They teach me how to dress and undress, how to wash and eat. They teach me independence. 

I complete one edition of the Academy. I ask them to let me stay on for another, but do not stay till the end. A slacker wakes up in me, who has always sat in there. People from the Academy get me a social pension and a room in a social welfare home (DPS). They say: this is the start, where you go on your wheelchair from here depends on you.

So I start by fixing the biggest mistake - I go back to school from the new school year. I do not know yet in which city. I will probably stay a nomad now. I will try computer graphics. I have always drawn nicely, but now I will hold neither pencils nor brushes with my paralyzed hands. I will find a younger sister whom I have not seen for eight years. I will force my lungs to regular breathing and make another album with my lyrics. Then I will add the first one I created before the "accident" and let professionals listen to it. 

I was afraid of this DPS. I decorated the visions of living in it. But even though I do not feel that it is my home, it is here that I got strong and I have acquired the desire to "pull myself together" and leave the void. 


* The protagonist of the reportage is a young, 23-year-old disabled rapper Eryk "Eros" Szerszeń. The headlines were taken from Eryk's lyrics.




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