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At the end of the promenade on Avenida Duquesa de la Victoria, in 2014, a titan stood in front of the old Red Cross hospital, a titan prisoner of time: Cronus (Saturn).

According to mythology, this titan was one of the divine descendants of Gaea (the earth) and Uranus (the sky). After defeating his father, he ruled during the so-called golden age, when there were no laws and no rules were necessary.

Fearing that he would be defeated by his own children and that the same thing would happen to him and his father, Cronus swallowed his children as soon as they were born. Rhea, tired of seeing her children die, secretly gave birth to Zeus, leaving him in the care of a goat on the island of Crete.

Time passed and there are multiple versions that tell how this child became the god that would end up defeating his father and would manage to free his brothers from the bowels of the great titan. The most widely heard version of Cronus' final fate is the one that tells us that the titan is locked up in Tartarus with the other titans.

Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans mentioned Cronus in their myths and legends, and it is precisely the latter who gave him more importance, turning this titan into the god of human time, capable of controlling the different seasons and harvests, possessing with his hands the control of time from his prison.

It is curious how he also refers to the impossibility or impediment of starting something or continuing a path, just as it happened when he cut the cycle of life by devouring his children. That fear, that dread, that constant obsession with time, still continues among us in its different forms, and just like that anxiety that reigned in the head of cronos, it is still present today in the heads of the foreigners who come to Melilla.

The bronze statue, almost five meters high, is "an allegory to TIME, LIFE and FREEDOM".

If we place ourselves in front of it, we can see an old man in a rage, chained to two sundials (which serve to calculate the time during the winter and summer solstice and vice versa) in a desperate search for his liberation.

The street children, [mostly known as MENAs (Unaccompanied Foreign Minors)], the children of La Purísima minors' centre, of the Melilla Assistance Centre (La Gota Leche), and even those who are or have been inside Baluarte (Centre for Minor Offenders), always mention and bear in mind the passage of time:

The time they have been in Melilla, the time they spend locked up, the time it has taken them to get where they are, the time they have left to go or the time they last saw their families. Always the time, the damned and eternal time that keeps them captive in the small Spanish city located in North Africa that, surrounded by a great blue wall, separates them from their idea of freedom, from their idea of life.

The statue of the great titan ironically reminds us of the situation of these young foreigners, who, from the earliest age, become adults (sometimes too early), wishing to achieve that freedom they have heard so much about.

Once again, the system fails, especially when we see how time, life and freedom are a right for those of us who have been lucky enough to be born on this side of the border and, how others, are deprived of them by being born on the other side.

Paintings on a wall in the city of Melilla:

The wall of sorrows.

A wish.

The memory.

A loved one.

The presence of time.

A way of leaving a mark.

We keep on fighting so that one day, they will be masters of their lives, their freedom and their time. In shaa allah.

Text and photos: Mariem Bachir M.



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