My friend Evelyn is a happy woman. She has lived through a thousand hardships in her youth but now that she’s nearing forty she looks back and the balance is more than positive. For me, younger than she, she inspires my admiration: her daughter is lovely, she’s cruising right along in her career, and she lives according to her principles and ideas -- this latter something that is in danger of extinction. We met when I was seventeen and since then she has not voted nor participated in any of the scenes staged by the government, nor given in to fear or the double standards of the people.
Evelyn could not study at the university. When she was at the Lenin vocational school, her classmates rejected her for her politics. She went to the province and on appeal her class raised their hands a second time to mark her file for life. She was not an independent journalist, nor a member of any party, nor did she walk up and down the central hallway preaching the universal declaration of human rights. She was, simply, a teenager, half rocker, half folk-singer.
Years passed and of that group at the Lenin school almost none are left in Cuba. On Evelyn’s Facebook account she sometimes gets friend requests from those who once raised their hands to destroy her life. It seems they live in France, Canada, Spain or the United States and it’s like a big confession that washes away all their sins and gives them the right to demand unconditional forgiveness from their victims. But my friend doesn’t forget. She never seeks revenge, nor does she let the rancor fester. But, to the “Facebook friends,” and the little tea parties the group holds when they return to Cuba, they may get tired of inviting her: She will always say no.
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.