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Surprise conscription by Johno


Adonis had looked forward to visiting Greece for as long as he could remember. Growing up in another country he felt he had lost out on his history and now looked forward to enjoying the Greek heritage.

His 21st birthday gift had paid for this trip. His family and friends had clubbed together to send him on a holiday to explore his roots.

The flight felt quick and uneventful, as he stepped off the plane at Eleftherios Venizelos Athens International Airport, Adonis felt the excitement. He held his prized Greek passport and approached passport control. The stern customs official held the document and swiped it across the desk device. Moments passed and eyebrows lifted. Adonis's heart skipped a beat. What could possibly be wrong?

He was shown to a small room. The wall clock ticked away the minutes and then the hours. Adonis paced, confused that he was in this situation. Finally, the door opened, two men in military uniforms entered. Their expressions were dull as they escorted him to a waiting vehicle on the other side of the airport.

The drive felt long, the landscape passing unnoticed. All his belongings including his phone had been taken away at the airport...he had no way of letting his family know. Why were these soldiers taking him away? What had he done wrong? The vehicle came to a halt at the GDDIA military base. Adonis stepped out, his questions falling on uninterested ears.

An officer arrived and in part English and Greek, explained the situation: Adonis had not completed the compulsory twelve months of military service. Greek law requires male citizens between the ages of 19 and 45 to serve in the military, regardless of whether they consider themselves Greek or have a foreign passport to do this no matter where they live.

Adonis protested in rough Greek. "I grew up abroad. I have never heard of this before."

The officer's gaze was fixed. "I don't make the laws," he said, taking Adonis to the military induction center.

For 12 months Adonis would do his military training far from the beaches, the Greek girls and olive groves he had hoped to see.

Inside, the air smelled stale masked with antiseptic. Adonis was forced to strip down to his underwear. He shivered. The next room had three barber chairs, facing a large mirror above old wooden cupboards. Adonis was ordered to the middle chair.

The barber's chair leather stuck to his bare skin. The mirror before him reflected a young man bewildered and scared. He panicked and moved to get out of the chair. Two firm hands gripped him. His future instructor who had arrived unnoticed, pushed him back into the chair.

The middle-aged barber, held the machine that would remove Adonis's civilian identity. His eyes focused, just another one of countless heads shorn. Adonis swallowed hard, fearing what came next.

The clippers hummed to life— the blades sharp and oiled. Adonis's gaze darted wide-eyed to the mirror, where his reflection stared back. The old man began. His hands were steady, practiced. He had a job to do and Adonis would soon see the results.

The first pass sent shivers down Adonis's spine. Thick black locks fell, landing on his lap and legs. He caught a chunk of long limp hair in his hand. His bare shoulders felt the hair fall and slip down towards his hairy chest. The room echoed with the loud buzzing, each stroke removed a part of who he was. His hair a big part of his good looks, gave way, sliding to the floor. The barber's smile remained fixed, he enjoyed watching young men mourn their loss.

Adonis's scalp showed, pale and exposed. White pathways appeared where his hair had been. The mirror revealed a stranger, his partly stripped head a shock. His Greek features stood out—the strong nose and defined cheeks. A loud buzzzt sounded and Adonis looked up to see his long floppy fringe give way to the blade. The hacked curtain of hair slid down over his face, chest and to his hair covered boxers.

At the back, the clippers chomped higher, revealing the naked skin high above his neck. Adonis clenched his fists, willing himself not to panic. The instructor next to him watching the destruction.

When the last tuft fell, Adonis's scalp looked bare, his hair no more. He touched it feeling the scratchy surface. The barber stepped back, satisfied. Adonis's thick eyebrows now stood out.

The reflection no longer reflected the Adonis who had planned on finding his Greece. Tears rolled down his cheeks. Twelve months away from home and family stretched ahead. He would be forced to be a soldier, disciplined and obedient.

Taking charge the instructor yelled at Adonis and forced him forward to complete his induction. By evening he would join fellow shaved recruits, who had arrived three days before him and start his military training. At some stage Adonis would be allowed to break the news to his family.



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