Every day, several times a day, they knock on my door, different representatives of the Department of Public Health. I used to always allow them to come in and they would check the whole house, taking down in a notebook in detail the number of drains, of pitchers, buckets, flower vases and anything else that could possibly be used to hold water.
Over time, it began to bother me more and more, the invasion of four different people on the same day coming to my home and writing down the exact same information as those before, day after day… for years. So one morning, a couple of years ago, I decided no more commotion, not one more time. Now I am ready; I dictate to them, from the landing outside my door: 5 drains, two pitchers, 3 water buckets, a Haier fridge. I am not hiding water, I do not have a tank. When they come and threaten me with fines (which has only happened twice) I stubbornly tell them that every day I let 5 different people in my home, that it is not good for me, not safe for me etc, and this seems to calm them. They must also have to suffer these strangers in their homes as well. When they want to check and see if there are bugs, I tell them I'm perfectly capable of recognizing an outbreak and I even tell them I make sure to put the poison for mosquito larvae in all the funnels and behind the refrigerator.
Months later I discovered, with my impulsive, “Not one more time” comment, that I’d made one of those wise decisions not reached by consensus but taken by people in response to stories: thieves disguise themselves and assault people who open their doors and allow them in; the Mosquito Boys (as we like to call them), doing their military service, note down everything that you have in order to report you to the police later, especially if they find something subversive (books, magazines etc.). In 2003, under Operation Window, the majority of computers that were seized came from reports made by the Department of Public Health.
I have no idea of the veracity of these comments, but if State Security wants to inventory the contents of our homes, let them come with orders if, in any case, they have the manpower to spare for this (maybe so, but they have no budget to do it nationally).
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.