by Ortensia Visconti
I would like to have an ounce of your power, so I could send someone to come and get you. To imprison you, so you would have the chance to rot in a hole and reflect on your bullshit. I would have them confiscate all your books, your pens and matchboxes with which you would write: that anyway, somebody will end up absolving you. Then I’d come and see you behind bars:
“How does it feel to be in there? What’s it like to be betrayed and deprived of your freedom?
Instead here I am asking myself how one falls out of love. It isn’t enough to enable the hypocrisy, behind which you conceal yourself to protect Her, the only one you ever loved. She was meant to lead us to happiness. That was supposed to be her purpose. Instead you still keep Her by your side , old and decrepit, like those whores with degrees of whom you are so proud. And when she leaves you for a second (perhaps at night, when you work and don’t sleep) then you pray. You do it without faith because it’s a childish habit that you’ve never managed to shake off. You deny Her the moment of a prayer, so you don’t have to admit to yourself that you’ve become her shadow.
Do you realize the harm you do?
You’re afraid of flying, you once said, ‘and of nothing else’. You remained anchored to reason, but its not what you promised. It’s as though I could see you now. An alarm has gone off in that masculine system. The instinct would be to flee. If I know you, then you’ll deliver us a clever one-liner, something real, something funny. But you can’t run away, you’re a prisoner like the rest of us.
We are stranded on the Granma, stuck among the mangroves. We’re trapped in the clutches of that bitch mermaid, once so beautiful, she had no rivals on earth. We’re on the island where She can’t be contradicted, where She always has the last word.
Okay, she kept us away from progress, that terrible fake progress . We haven’t changed much in forty years. And as children, your didn’t educate us just with words but also with actions. Civically, morally ethically, then you persuaded us to put up with you and your Bitch.
Maybe we’re more serene than the capitalists , who renew they’re rations of happiness by buying more gadgets, household appliances and pursuing virtual ambitions like cocaine. Consumerists, conformists, they sit on their washing machines like discounted thrones. We dance. We sing. We get drunk. You are one of the few who doesn’t know how to sing and dance. Nationalism , anti-imperialism, socialism, economic independence, political freedom and social justice. That’s how you had started dancing, to the rhythm of Jose` Marti. Then you fell once, then again and then once again. But you always get back on your feet, you never give up. You don’t know how to lose. They say that as a child, to show your strength, you got on a bicycle and threw yourself against a stone wall. You had concussion, but you had won.
Are you still winning? Or is She the winner?
My son is a classical dancer. He said to me: “ We kids have no dreams.” He dreams of becoming a waiter. He said to me : “We live day by day”. He dreams of boarding an ocean liner, and of roaming the seas in a white jacket with golden buttons. “We miss freedom.”
You’re actually the one who said this, when She wasn’t yet calling all the shots: “I am certain that now the Republic will truly be free for the first time.” Bravo. You gave it, and then you took it back. Love is always like that. It never sustains itself enough, in the worst case it ends up depending on the ability of controlling the other, who remains subjugated, still hanging on nostalgically to those early promises. And so we carry on living, still drunk on your charm
My sister is a famous television actress. When she spoke about you being old and ill she had to dry her tears. “I grew up with him”, she said. “I am not prepared to be without him.” She’s intense, discreet, humble, like a woman leaning her head on the shoulder of her man. Even she loves you.
Because you are excessive, so sure of yourself, optimistic. Because you are tender and sensitive. “Your letters are as different one from the other as the stars”, you once wrote to one of your loves. And you’re faithful, though not to Mirta nor to Naty, and not even to the eternal Celia. “I would willingly give up my life for your honour and your happiness.”(Liar! You would never had sacrificed Her just for one woman) You also said: “I would like to squeeze you so tightly in my arms, that I could crush you in my hands like a flower.” Yes, this certainly is possible. To kill for love. To protect, to preserve, to control. To not allow the power one has over the other to wane; liberty can’t let go of those early promises
“It’s all about control” said my nephew who prostitutes himself on the Malecon. “We don’t have a satellite television, because if we are exposed to all that exists in the world and we compare it to what we have, we would despair.” German tourists tell him about the world: horny old women, aroused by his beauty, bought for the price of a sandwich and a beer. So he too thinks he has no dreams and is unable to imagine a future for himself. But he has a dream: he wants to see snow.
And if many of us still breathe you, others no longer breathe at all.
You like swimming, scuba diving, playing baseball.
You like ice cream and cooking spaghetti.
You’re fun, handsome and stubborn. You speak to us for hours, making us feel important. You like shocking us with truth, no rhetoric; just concreteness, clarity, coherence. And then Engels, Lenin, Marx and then yourself. Lots of yourself.
I like men like you, they live more than one life, more than one love, more than one idea. You’re powerful for real. You’re pure energy and you are unafraid, until the fear of losing invades you. Then you lose everything. People around you don’t even notice, but you do. It’s old age digging into you . You still have no equal in the world; you reign supreme, protected by the love of others. But you’re losing your pace, and you know it. All you can do is squeeze what remains of your conquest, tightly in your fist. And in that moment you become like other men. Today your argument is steadfastly pedagogic. Today you are authoritative and repressive. Okay, imperialism has coroded idealism. Difficulties have made you increasingly vigilant , stricter. Like a jealous husband, you think it’s enough to lock Her up in the house, so she won’t run away with the first culprit; that’s how you’ve managed to protect your damned REVOLUTION, agonized, suffocated by compromise. By freezing her.
How does one fall out of love? The anger doesn’t last long enough. I imagine you here right now. I extend my arm to brush my hand against your beard. Sometimes your eyes seem so good. You dry my tears and with the self assurance you have, you say that everything will go as you wish and it will improve for us. I feel your will power….the certainty that you have to make the world go around, if it would only stop. You’re the only man I ever loved and already I am ready to forgive
If only you would remember that She is an idea of yours. That you taught her how to dream. Now you would teach her to scream, if only you didn’t’ love ideas more than men. Then you would be able to regenerate her, without the fear of seeing her float away from your centre of gravity
But you’re old; you don’t have the capacity to renew cells (even if you have nine lives, have recently resurrected , and your ‘morality’ bullet –proof jacket always protects you) you’re no longer audacious, intrepid nor generous. And nowadays you say: “I haven’t inherited any tasks, I’m not a king, therefore I have no successor to prepare, not even to spare the country from the trauma of a chaotic transition”. If you’re not a king, why doesn’t anyone dare contradict you? Why can’t I shout that you have betrayed me? That I put my life into your hands and you don’t want to give it back? Why do you reign? Maybe you forgot about Montesquieu. Yet as a young man, when you wrote from your cell “History will absolve me”, you remembered his words by heart: There are three types of governments “The Republic, in which the people, or a part of the people retain sovereign power. The Monarchy, in which only one man governs according to fixed laws. The despot, in which one individual, bound by no rules or laws, pursues his own will and whims (2).
You’ve isolated yourself and this isolation has kept you lucid, clean both mentally and ideologically. But its also made you conservative. And you want to die with your Revolution by your side, as though your queen.
Or maybe you’re already dead, ‘embalmed in a fridge’, as the old custodian of a church suggested.
The thing is, Fidel., you no longer love. And my love will dissipate in the midst of that of many Cubans, because like me they are childish. They keep on loving.