Saturday, December 26, 2009

Island of Thorns

Children listen without any doubt. We are living our daily routine, sometimes overwhelm by the cost of living, or the bills we have to pay or simple families issues, and you see those little persons running and playing with any toy of their invention, and you don’t stop to think they are listening in daily basis what you are talking, or swearing.Island of Thorns

I was a happy child. I had a privilege of having lot of toys and souvenirs. Home for me was Heaven; I was that child in the center of people’s universe. So, my childhood didn’t know about any sort of shortage of anything: toys, affection and love. But my surroundings were plenty of them.

I only had to open my door and look in front of me. A row of little wooded houses with their facades peeling off crushed my sight every time I opened my door. Even though their lives were wild and innocents, my friends were those, the ones who didn’t have too much to share, too much to bring to my games and I wasn’t rich.

I remember Mayra, a little black girl living in one of those houses, and Sergio, my friend of too many misdeeds. Our street wasn’t pave and we played baseball there, in the very center of the street, dodging cars and people who from time to time were yelling at us. We were happy, for sure, even when our surroundings were scrambling in hatred.

For instance, Sergio’s father was a political prisoner. And Mariano, other of my friends, his father was living in Miami. I didn’t know at that time where was Miami, but people usually living there were our “enemy”, even when Mariano wasn’t my enemy.

Children listen, that’s true. And we played war games between American and Cubans. I always wanted to be a Cuban fighter, even when my physiognomy wasn’t too Cuban as you can say. We grew up in a world where the grown-ups were in despair and divided and that was part of our life.

In school we were taught how hideous the Americans were with us, and the first thing to do early in the morning was to salute our national flag and yell: Pioneers by the Communism, We will be like Che”. And I knew who Che was but, honestly, I never understood what it was Communism.

For children the world is simple, but I would say for adults the world is even simplest. My whole life I had a friend named Eduardo at school, he lived far away from home, but in school we were always together. Later on we even disputed the same girl named Maria del Carmen, she was my first girlfriend but ended marrying him. Ah, life is surprisingly amazing. Anyway, Eduardo’s father one day was detained and was in jail, I don’t know how many years, long time I would say.

Suddenly, my whole world changed. Every time I was trying to reach Eduardo to play any child game, my teacher, some adult or even other children were admonishing me not to meet “the traitor”. Do you know how a little child could be a traitor?

It comes to my mind, as a flash, those clever few words of Antoine de Saint-Exupery:

“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is exhausting for children to have to provide explanations over and over again”.

How clever!!!

I grew up and now I am not that little child anymore. But I am coming back to my childhood today, maybe because Christmas was yesterday and I have so many beautiful memories of those times where my family was together, and we were having such a good time with cousins and uncles, and people who I don’t have any idea, today, where they are.

I grew up in a world surrounding in suspicions and fears. In a world where people were leaving to somewhere and you don’t even notice when it would happen. Today you were somebody else friend, tomorrow that person was an enemy, you couldn’t even talk about.

I remember even names removed from our history books, radio stations and TV shows. My father had an old record-player, those ones who usually play big black plastic discs, I think its name is PVC discs, and my mother was a huge fan of Celia Cruz, which I adore because it brings me such lovely memories. And I still remember my mother playing the record not too loudly and giving me a name which it wasn’t her real name. That memory is stuck in my mind with flame letters. She didn’t want to tell me the real name afraid, I would say, that I could repeat at school.

I don’t even remember the name she mentioned, but I am positive it was Celia Cruz because I still have her records. Celia Cruz was a wretched name officially. As result of all of that, my friends were disappearing one by one, leaving a trace in my memories but vanishing in our daily routine.

Today, they are only names, small stories hidden in my memories. Today Cuba is more and more divided by fake barriers. I am sure that like my memories many of us have the same one with different names and places. You could change details and nuances, but deeply inside us there is the same story over and over.

Our school system is leaning to make our future citizens suspicious and consider any dissidence a betrayal to the Revolution. It is not educating integrally a citizen as a guard of universal values, rather than that, it is filling our children heads with ideas of hatred and intolerance.

They leave their school, they grow up, and they become part of the mob that tomorrow could be reprimanded people with different ideas, far away from what they were taught in school.

Our little island is carrying a crown of thorns. Our little children are the first victims of that massacre.

We need to stop that. We need to save our little citizens of tomorrow !!!!