The other day I saw the movie “Crossing Over” which tried to encompass the subject of immigration in the United States. From my perspective of a “potential emigrant” citizen it seemed quite shocking, although it didn’t deal directly with the “Cuban” issue, and I was very touched. A strange coincidence of “positive” American characters and “negative” foreigners, although subtle, left a bad taste in my mouth.
Almost all of my friends now live in a some country in the world other than Cuba. I see around me that “leaving the country” is the “Cuban dream.” In no way am I standing in judgment on their decisions, I simply think that it is extremely sad that this island has become so unlivable for almost everyone.
My mother dreams that one day I will finally open my eyes and get on a plane for “someplace else,” my friends “fight for” scholarships and postgraduate positions where they might leave, a doctor curses over and over that she chose a career that is not assigned a “white card”; but as if that isn’t enough, high government officials and many people “committed” to the “process” long for the same destiny for their children and themselves.
To say goodbye to somebody at least three times a year is a part of my everyday life, sadly I can’t say the same for saying hello. Strangely, I know my friends don’t find what they’re looking for either, maybe it’s almost as hard to be an emigrant as to live under totalitarianism.
I ask myself when the day will come when we young people don’t have to scatter to the four winds to begin to plan a life from the darkness of emigration. I wonder when the Cuban government will assume responsibility for separating and dispersing us.
Talking about emigration is sad and complex and, like in the movie, to treat it lightly can be sad and hurtful to those living outside the country. Unfortunately, to emigrate is not an option: it’s an exit.
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.