Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sad Connections

Today I just finished Persepolis, by the Iranian writer Marjane Satrapi and I have seen reflected there a part of my life and my worries. Strange things unequivocally mark totalitarian regimes, beyond ideology, religion or culture, which have the same effects on their citizens.

Coincidently, the author talks about a novel, Oshin, that I saw in Cuba when I was still a girl. I remember my sister and I turned my room into a Japanese shrine, my father made us a few chopsticks to eat with and my mother soaked the rice to complete our tragic soap opera fantasies. But even more notable, it turns out, was to see that just as in Cuba Oshín didn’t work as a Geisha, in the Iranian version she was called a “hairdresser,” in the Cuban one she was a “stylist.” The work of a Geisha didn’t fit with Islamic morality, and on the other side of the world the communists considered it opposed to socialist morality.

When I was 20 I taught a Spanish language student from North Korea, at that time I didn’t have the slightest idea what happened to people in that part of the world. My student was hard working, spoke with an accent but with grammatical accuracy, and liked the classes. However, something strange about him repelled me, his ideas frightened me and his compositions left me with my mouth agape. Once when we were working on the imperfect subjunctive and the conditional, his sentences were more or less like this:

- If the general had called for the sacrifice of the army, the soldiers would have died happy.

He never wrote anything that wasn’t about war. I decided to suspend the class, he apologized and asked for some homework that he could study. He didn’t want to leave, he told me I was the only foreigner he was authorized to speak to in Cuba, the Spanish teacher. I told him I was very sorry and said goodbye.

The years passed and I learned that we and North Korea share the same destiny: to live in a dictatorship. I realized that sensation of freedom that I feel when I publish in my blog was the same one he felt when he talked with me and I mocked his sentences. I felt intolerant and lazy, I cut this poor man’s connection to the ground, his tunnel of information. I’ve never heard anything more about him.

It’s incredible that we share such similar feelings, though we are so different, and that our governments use absurdly parallel techniques. Marjane says that when you are only obsessed with correcting your dress, there’s no time to worry about your personal freedom nor the rights of others. How many times have I heard people tell the discouraged people in Cuba that they can’t talk politics because first we must put food on the table?


La Polémica said...

Hello and thank you for you work well done, can you please put a +share boton on the Post so we can share this post with the world.
thank you

Ps: also Claudias Twitter

Anonymous said...

I've turned this over to a pro who didn't know how to do it so he's turned it over to another pro. In the meantime, if you click on the little envelope at the bottom of the post, that will let you email it to someone.
Sorry! If there are any readers who know how to add the share button please let me know... I've looked and looked for it but to no avail.
English Translator