The other day at one of our blogger meetings we chose to talk about the stories of the Colón cemetery, of the vicissitudes that happen in Cuba when someone close dies. It seems to be a shocking enough topic, and in a certain sense it is, fortunately we’ve seen the movie, “The death of a bureaucrat,” which made it clear years ago that dying in Cuba “is not easy.”
A few days later a neighbor caught me by surprise with a horrifying story. It seemed that a 40-year-old woman in the neighborhood had died from epilepsy. The attending doctor found no external signs of violence, but in the interest of prudence called Legal Medicine to come and examine the body. Legal Medicine that it wasn’t necessary, despite the youth of the victim, if there were no signs of a crime they should proceed directly to preparing the death certificate without them.
For security reasons, the family asked that an autopsy be performed on the deceased and began to prepare the paperwork. As it was late at night, no hospital had much interest in receiving them, they heard several variants of refusal:
- There is no water. - There is no technician. - The person in charge can’t be located.
Finally they found a hospital that agreed to receive the deceased and the family quietly awaited the results, which take about two months. But three months passed and there was no response: it seems that the organs were lost and/or were thrown out at some point between the hospital and the processing site.
Deciding to make a complaint, they went to the province and tried to move heaven and earth, but they realize that they may never know what she died of.
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.