I go over to a friend’s house and find her roaring with laughter over her son’s homework. She gave me a sheet of notebook paper and invited me to read it, but not before clarifying, “It’s very honest, you can see he’s only seven.”
My whole school is nice except the bathroom, because it is nicely painted and nothing is broken, but the bathroom is badly painted, there is always poop, and it smells like pee. In my school I have many good and funny friends, also the teacher is very good and quite funny. In the morning the director says many things but sometimes I don’t listen. I almost always want to go to school and even more when I go there to eat, today I ate flour and the teacher made me.
The truth is it didn’t make me laugh that much, I remember when I was that age and what happened later. I didn’t say anything to my friend, but if our country doesn’t change, within three or four years the children’s compositions, far from criticizing the smell or remembering the pleasures of playing with their classmates, will mention the dead heroes from the wars of past centuries and the unknown battles of ideas.
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.