I NEED SOMEBODY, SOMEBODY TO LOVE

3 03 2010

DURAN-DURAN

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Last week I saw Durán. Durán getting out of an articulated Chinese bus. Route P1 or P4. On Infanta, in front of the Multiplex Cinema, at the aviary stop. A flush of late night midweek cold. While the city makes up a curfew and hundreds of people occupy Havana in civilian dress.

Durán. Older than the Physics Faculty. More dignified than its architecture always half restored. And crazier and more faithful than the rest of its cloister of professors as well. Technician or Engineer or Graduate or Doctor o perhaps Corporal Durán. It just came over me.

With his shabby republican suit. With the Sicilian jaw of a handsome well-built guy, although hunchbacked by the weight of so many decades and classrooms. Shaved, or almost, as ordered by God or Enthalpos. Super-octogenarian I suppose. With odor. Limping or almost. With a will of radioactive isotope and still with a certain twinkle in his Newtonian glance.

Durán: A Caguairian whose bones of noble atoms almost resist termites; a battler of optical and mechanical laboratories, with his little cloth bag overflowing with free leftovers from the post-proletarian dining room of the 21st century socialipsista Cuban.

Durán still carries on. And delirious, perhaps.

I remember him in 1991 and 1992. At the height of the Special Period. Among students and professors expelled from the University because of more or less idiotic questions of official ideology. Shouting something a bit vulgar when no one seemed to understand. I even remember I came up with some stupid joke about his appearance and Durán somehow noticed. But he said nothing at the time. Stoicly or scholasticly or stochasticly he let it pass. But later he asked me some basic questions that my worthless biochemical logic failed to solve.

I learned with that lesson from Durán. With all my apparent “cool” and the explosiveness of my twenties, even succeeding in some future position, I would be just a kid as long as I didn’t learn to humbly respect those who know how to think.

Soon another 20 years will have passed: a second life since then. Durán looks much more impoverished today, about to be done, but I’m sur his soul still still vibrates much more strongly than mine.

And so I wanted to tell this story here. To thank him for his soldier’s gift of dirty lab coats in laboratories of shabby half missing equipment. To apologize, although I know that from his point of view it is not necessary. To tell him, publicly that an occasional student of his still admires him, and wishes him a slightly less prickly fate for his days. To prepare myself mentally to leave, this famous or ignored writer, within 20 or 40 years stumbling onto Cuban post-revolutionary buses, perhaps in the rags of the same clothes with swing that I am wearing today.

Carry on, Durán. Don’t fail me now. I knew you when I was an imbecile, healthy and happy. For that I am going to take your courage or your armor until the end of my idling in this city: inhospitable hostel whose arid arithmetic is nothing more than a shoddy experimental error.

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