A Walk Down Misery Street

They would probably be saints, except for one critical point: They can empathize deeply, but only with and for each other. For strangers, for so-called “normal people,” the addicts’ hearts are often closed, with rarely a drop of sympathy.

***

Sometimes, though rarely, even the most seasoned addict cannot determine who stands before him: one of his own kind or the other? An addict or not?

That’s how it was with Kevin. No one could discover which one he was. He neither distanced himself from the group of students nor merged with it. He was neither ours nor theirs. Not with us, not with them. Decide for yourself. Better yet—don’t worry about Kevin. Just mind yourself.

At the graduation ceremony, all of the graduates were expected to give a small speech. Kevin’s presentation was awaited with great anticipation. We all knew he was a man of few words. But his apt comments, sharp cutting humor, and unexpected outbursts of laughter suggested that a different man was hidden inside. We hoped Kevin would finally remove the mask and reveal himself.

On the eve of the ceremony, the excitement and curiosity around Kevin swelled. The Riddle of this Sphinx must be solved! Heated debates took place during the break. The majority was of the view that Kevin was one of “ours.”

Who was right?

***

After receiving his diploma, Kevin offered a short speech. He thanked the teachers and wished success to all his classmates. And then, to everyone’s dismay, he fell silent.

“Ke-vin, Ke-vin, Ke-vin . . .” one of the students began to call out Kevin’s name, rhythmically pounding his hand on the desk.

Others joined in. Within a minute, all students in the auditorium were drumming in unison on the desks.

“Ke-vin! Ke-vin!”

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