Since Friday, April 8, the heavens have announced to us the march is coming. Under beautiful blue the war planes rehearse, it’s not clear what or why, and down here on the ground we cover our ears against the roar. My dogs are losing sleep, the male barking desperately at the ceiling and the female cowering under the sofa. I wish I could explain to them that it is nothing more than a deployment of military vanity in a country tired of repeating to the world that it condemns war. I go out into the street and am surprised to see some tanks file past right before my eyes. I cross 26th Avenue and breathe deeply, it’s a fact: this island is governed by madmen. Traffic is diverted and the cars lost in the alleyways are a mess. I spend fifteen minutes trying to cross Paseo.
For ten days I’m living in a countdown: minus seven, minus five, today, finally, minus two. Never have I been so desperate for the coming of a Sunday. From Friday, everything will be paralyzed, schools, businesses, the city. With so much need and such a crisis I wonder how many zeros there are on the price of the mega-march for the fiftieth anniversary of the Bay of Pigs.
We Cubans say we are paranoid, and honestly, if we weren’t we’d be really sick, because there is nothing more chilling than to stand on the balcony and see a squad of soldiers screaming obscenities and stomping the ground, nor more theatrical than an army mobilized in times of peace, nor more irrational than taking men from their jobs to mobilize the reserves several times a year. Nothing as sad as this week, reminding us, mercilessly, that it is not the war of a whole people, but the war against a whole people.
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.