He wasn't a guy of big words, and he seemed to live entirely in his own world. I remember that during the days he worked with us none of us exactly knew who he was, where he came from or what he was looking for, and afterwards he disappeared. Nobody knew where he had gone, what he was doing or if he had friends or a family to stay with. I guess, we didn't even know his name----and even if we did, I've forgotten it anyway. Those days were more than hard for all of us. There seemed to be no escape from the greyness of our everyday life which was the only colour that surrounded us. The huge concrete blocks we lived in was grey, the grey of the factory dust, even the colour of our clothes, that once might have been white was grey. It must have been a bright and shining white... and I can't exactly recall how much time I spent trying to imagine the kind of white it might have been. Since white was the colour of the kind of paradise I so much longed to live in someday, grey left behind nothing more than a bitter taste of emptiness and depression. I can remember how I noticed once, that any other colour must be a symbol for something, a feeling or whatever. Only grey seemed to stand for absolutely nothing. This was the world I lived in, and so did he.
Having our job in the factory was still luxury though, considering the fact that most of us had families to feed. And not long after he started to work there, I would always find him working at the machine next to mine. We'd work for hours next to each other, staying quiet, with our thoughts drifting away to a different place but still aware of our hands doing the same movements over and over again. We were doing that until the bell would ring to end the work for the day. I used to work in a mechanical way, following the same rhythm over and over again, and so did he. But every time I was about to give up, he would lift his head and give me a little smile, as if he could guess my thoughts. I think it was actually his eyes that impressed me most. They were so dark and straight, and though they seem to be hiding anything, I couldn't get rid of the impression that somehow he must be hiding something.
Since I first saw him, he had always been around, and every time he gave me one of those smiles, he would spread a bit of warmth into my heart, a bit of friendliness. I guess, at the end of the day it must have been him who gave me the strength to go on somehow, just by being there.
Well, to make a long story short, he died only a year after he started working with us. It was a car accident and he didn't have to suffer very long. I must have been his only friend in town, at least that was what I thought when I went to his funeral. The only person I met there was an old lady, maybe his mother. She told me that he had lost his family just the year before and after that he didn't speak any more. He hadn't said a single word. First I didn't believe her. I just thought that he was a fairly quiet person; besides there was nothing much to say anyway. But suddenly I realized that I couldn't recall ever having heard his voice at all. Only then did I realize it!.
He gave me so much and I knew so little about him. He had been my friend and now I had lost him without having had the chance to give anything back. He had been so strong that he was able to give whatever had happened.
I felt weak in those days. And guilty. But after that I started to care for the people around me. I think I started to live.