In vain I search my mind for the name of my favorite friend when we were in preschool and first grade, the passing of the years have totally erased it. He was the tallest child in the classroom and he sat in the desk that was next to mine, he happily shared with me his lunches and would sharpen my pencil when the tip broke. We laughed together during recess and we ran around each other while doing three-legged races. He was probably the best friend I had during those two years of childhood. The presence of my classmate every morning was an important part of my routine when I was a child and it made me feel fortunate, I would even say happy; in my infantile mind there wasn’t the slightest possibility that one day that child could disappear from my life, in a way that never again, to this day, I would ever see him again.
Sitting on the doorstep of my grandparent’s house who took care of me nights while my parents worked or studied, I saw a large group of people go down the street, shouting phrases and slogans as they went, much of what they said I am unable to remember at all, but the euphoric cries of: down with the worms, the lumpen, and the song of: down with Pin Pon, down with the worm farm, if I remember them correctly in my memory. They would walk down the streets with lit torches in their hands, frightening me tremendously without understanding what was happening and making me run into my grandparent’s house’s to hide from the strange parade; when the mob went by, I came out, still not understanding precisely the meaning of all that commotion.
Next day I went back to school and was surprised by the absence of my classmate, I remember this day as one of the saddest in my childhood. Between the events of the night before, the absence of my friend and the commentaries of those around me, I began to put together what was happening and only understood completely when I walked one afternoon by the boy’s house and saw it shut down, with a paper seal guarding the front door, the floor of the entryway littered with broken eggs and the green-painted masonry, splattered. I drew the sad conclusion that the family had left the country through the Mariel Boat Lift and that they had taken my dear friend away with them, but sadder still was to understand that the wild mob that had scared me so much had been targeting them, hurling all kinds of insults, rejecting them as if instead of human beings they had been vermin and throwing at them, like bombs, the innumerable eggs.
Years later, during the nineties, when the economic situation in Cuba collapsed, especially because of the collapse of the European socialist camp that practically supported our country, during the terrible periodo especial (Special Period) that dealt blows to all of us, we came to cry in the midst of our need for an egg to satisfy hunger in our ruined stomachs and it was later that these repudiated Cubans were welcomed like gods, it would be they who, with their remittances and family assistance and friends, would substitute in part for European Socialism in supporting our sickly economy. I have always wondered if my friend has been among all these Cubans in exile that have returned to the country to visit their loved ones whose memory must keep like a stigma the act of repudiation that el pueblo enardecido (the inflamed people) dealt them, in which people he may have known since he was born participated, the chants and slogans that I am sure in that moment he did not comprehend and the egg bombardment with which they committed aggression against his home.
Things haven’t changed that much, Cuban emigrants have multiplied since the time I reference until today, it being difficult to find a family in Cuba where at least one of its members doesn’t live outside of the country, it’s good that the times when they were repudiated through mass action have gone away. I just hope that in a not too distant future the acts of repudiation cease against other Cubans who have not decided to leave but rather to stay within our borders to confront the same regime that governs us since ’59, and that the people of Cuba in their totality roundly refuse to participate in these low and immoral acts, showing themselves to be a people that is coherent, dignified, truly respectful of differences, which is the only way possible to march together towards a tomorrow better than that yesterday and than this today all of us Cubans live.
Translated by: lapizcero
October 28 2011