On the second Sunday in May, since I have had the power of reason, 12th and 23rd is filled with people: selling flowers, food, thousands of people go to the cemetery to visit the graves of their mothers and grandmothers. The state allows many small food vendors (not cheap, by the way) and people have fun and celebrate a day that in our culture is one of the most important of the year.
I was walking along 12th and 23rd last Sunday, a little surprised because unlike in previous years and despite the balloons and flowers, I didn’t see a single sign that said, “Congratulations Mom!” I thought maybe they’d been forgotten, in the rush to prepare everything at the last minute on Friday. However a single small sign made me think that maybe I was mistaken, that those of us who were celebrating Mother’s Day were the ones who buying, because those who were selling, it appeared, were celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Triumph of the Revolution… again.
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.