Yesterday at six in the evening one of my best friends called, asking me to go to CIMEQ where her father (retired security services) was dying. She’s been my friend since I was born and I love her father. Here in Cuba the relationships among family members have become really tangled (my father was also in the security services). The first thing I thought was, “She’s crazy, they’re not going to let me in at Cimeq, not even for a dead man,” but it wasn’t like that, I went in through the service door and nobody asked me anything, despite spending 20 minutes wandering around with a face looking like, “where am I… where’s the elevator for god’ssssss” and ending up getting in a freight elevator with terror on my face. I’d been there when I was a girl, my father took me when I was sick, and I remember some things. Nothing has changed in almost twenty years, literally. Of course it doesn’t compare to Calixto García or to Fajardo, which look like they’ve been bombed (in spite of some repairs that for some strange reason are not very obvious). I have spent a lot of time in my life in hospitals, for five years I was hospitalizing my grandmother in Fajardo every six months, and I took care of my first boyfriend in the Calixto hospital for almost a year… and nobody can tell me that at least health care in Cuba is grrrrrr… at least what? At least we have good antibodies and people save themselves, at times… really it’s a miracle (I’ve seen, from a pneumothorax hose to a femur put in backwards during a one-hour blackout in intensive care during a cyclone at Calixto Garcia--in 2002 or 2003, I don’t remember--because there was no staff). In addition to the general apathy of the doctors and nurses and the daily mistreatment (they also live on their salaries), the bad conditions and the filth are the status quo. But my friend was depressed and told me: one week to have a test, another week to have it looked at by a specialist, more than a month waiting for a broken machine, sometimes the wrong medicine comes. And I wonder: what about the broken ceilings, the clocks that don’t work, each one showing a different time… Don’t they think here is where everything should be the best? If it’s like this here, what’s left for us?
This is an excerpt to a version of the song, Epitaph for Vladimir Visotski by Karsmarski Jacek (Polish dissident songwriter), which includes Ciro Diaz in his latest album, The Blue Slug, that I listened to compulsively for at least two months, especially on the street with my mp3 inherited from a friend who now has an I-pod. (Download the lyrics here) (Download the recording and album cover here) The song (in summary, which runs about ten minutes) is about a desperate artist going through the circles of hell in search of an answer or death, and at the end of his journey there is only loneliness and the weight of the supreme power above himself. So I found myself at times catching the bus across Havana at 12 noon in August under the perennial sunshine and with the distressing feeling of not going anywhere, or arriving too late, or going for pleasure ... I feel that I have already arrived at the eighth enclosure (this is the finale of the song) where there is nothing, and I feel useless and empty, and I look at people without faith who walk along the street and who have so much fear that they no longer know they're afraid, and who have seen so many Roundtables and so many news broadcasts that they no longer know what belongs to reality or just to the TV screen. They cannot discern that they no longer believe, but cannot disbelieve either, and just move along past me not going anywhere.