It was getting late. People passed by without stopping to listen or notice him, although he was a good player. Thomas gave up for the day. He picked up the shoebox containing the earnings of the day: ten euros and some cents. Not enough to feed his children.
He was ashamed and felt guilty because he had put his family in such a dire situation. Maria, his wife, had a job as a caregiver of an old lady at night and brought money at home. She was providing for the family. And she was exhausted because the lady was very demanding. During the mornings, while she was asleep, he took care of the house and the kids. When Maria was already awake after lunch, he went out hunting for a job, so far without luck. He was a reputed engineer in his country, but nobody gave credit to his titles here, and he was offering his services as an electrician, bricklayer, plumber, garbage collector, whatever. Nothing.
Back at home, they had convinced him that if he reached Europe, he would have a job and soon be rich, living far away from the war that was endangering his family’s life. It was the call of the promised land.
He took almost all his savings to pay a man who organized trips from north Africa to Greece. That crook abandoned him in the hands of a mafia who stripped him from all the money and valuables they had to survive in Europe until they get settled.
After two months in an awful camp in Libya, they boarded an old ship. When they were in the middle of the Mediterranean, they made them left the ship to board small inflatable boats and left them adrift. They were near an island, but they didn’t know that. He thought they all were going to die.
Two days later, a rescue ship spotted and rescued them, dehydrated and half-frozen but alive. Then they had to survive the refugee camps until they escaped to go to Italy. But then the pandemic arrived. Who would employ an African when the Italians themselves were losing their jobs to the virus?
So, to make some money, he went every day to the city’s main square to play the flute he had managed to save during his ordeal to reach Europe. His music was sweet, exotic, and blue. But the streets were almost empty because the restrictive measures due to the coronavirus had closed the restaurants, cafes, and shops.
Ten euros and some cents. It wasn’t so bad. At least he would try to find a store open to buy some chocolates for his kids—a little gift from dad to bring some joy home in the middle of the dark.