It is a little delirious to demand civilized behavior from a society that, with the help of the state, foments the creation of Rapid Response Brigades [to attack anyone who publicly protests or dissents]. Because of this, when I see the agitated state of people around me, I try to breathe deeply and tell myself, paraphrasing Ivan: They are not the enemy… nor am I.
We say this jokingly between us, and jokingly as well they told me this sad story the other day. I am one of those who maintains humor as a “maximum” remedy against what is, I have Faith in laughter to cleanse me of the bad feelings I get going out in the street, and to fight my daily grind.
The story is simple: it happened a few years ago when we still were enjoying the delirious interventions of the Comandante on the Roundtable TV show. But sometimes mysterious disappearances created conjectures among people (like now when he doesn’t update his blog for many days). During one such period, a friend of Julio (a professional dominoes player) died, a man named Fidel.
One of the players went to Julio’s house to give him the news, and as he lived on the third floor he shouted from the sidewalk:
- Julio! Did you know? Fidel died.
But the neighbor above Julio didn’t play dominoes and didn’t know “that” Fidel, so he thought it was the “other one.” He went straight to his room, grabbed his baseball bat, went to the house of the president of the CDR (Committee for the Defense of the Revolution) and split his head open.
Unfortunately I’ve been able to confirm that almost no one else has this dread that I have. Hopefully when that day comes that we are all waiting for more or less anxiously, with more or less Faith, with more or less apprehension, it won’t occur to any player to split anyone in the head.
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.