www.elmundo.es/blogs/elmundo/habaname

12 04 2010

GROWING UP IN EXERCISES OF DEATH

Wendy Guerra

(Taken from her blog HABÁNAME)

I have white death and truth
distant… “Don’t give me your fresh roses;
I am seriously ill of roses. Give me the sea…”
Death solicits, watching,
walking behind me until my fall.
It accompanied me — caring and loving —
Rafaela Chacón Nardi

Terrifying voice in funeral lament,
from the seas of my country flies
to the beaches of Iberia; sadly
in confusing tone the wind widens it;
the sweet song in my throat freezes,
and shadows of pain clothe my mind.
Ah! That mournful voice,
which with its pain denotes America
and on these beaches releases the ocean
“She died,” it says, “the ardent patriot…”
“He died,” it repeats,” the Cuban troubadour”;
and a sad echo in the distance moans,
“The Niagara singer died sublime!”
Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda

I take the theme of death very badly. I bow before death with too much pain. Looking out over a flat roof I can descend crushed by fear.

This week I woke up with the memory of my deaths. My father, my friends, my poets, my personal saints.

The soul, the body, the emptiness, abandonment or the trail left by our most beloved dead, fight within me with intense injuries.

This week the newspapers of the world talked of death, imprisonment, the hunger strikes in my country. My head and my body were trapped in the birdcage that is the act of dying.

For many cultures it is a cycle of closure in order to open other bright and luminous cycles. I should see it this way, me, to whom death seems like the end of everything. But death weighs on me and casts me into a dark power.

It always seemed normal to me that someone would decide to die faced with the prospect of living and suffering indefinitely from an incurable disease. Always, until the dilemma of euthanasia touched me. I looked at the body of my mother, still alive, looked at her face and any possibility other than that she would find a miracle or disinter a shred of hope was closed to me. I convinced myself that in the care of the body that still flickers before us, lives hope.

The cage of life opened.

I handle death badly, but I have to confront it. Six Marches before, the day of my mother’s death, I surrendered to it.

Among the flower wreaths, the rituals of mourning, condolences, or visits to the terminally ill, I resign myself.

I don’t support the death penalty. I regret every day of a hunger strike.

In my teens I dreamt of the same firing squad. I couldn’t see their faces, I heard the shot and saw the gray walls full of bullet holes. The nightmare came over and over again for years.

I am very conscientious, as much as we have called out, we should not be surprised that it appears. Every day, from when we are very young, we repeat that phrase in which we have to choose between the fatherland and death; we swear we are going to be like a man who is already dead and in that death we put all the energy of our growth. “Pioneers for communism, we will be like Che.”

The busts, the hymns, the patriots, the names of the heroes and martyrs who have gone to our schools. Every October throwing flowers on the sea for Camilo.

We line up in rows and rows to see the boxes with the dead coming back from wars far from this island.

We ar a culture that has not prepared for death, but say its name with east. We don’t celebrate the Day of the Dead like they do in Mexico, but we mention it daily like a mantra, looking at its face, like a permanent possibility.

In the eighties, when the events of Granada happened, we heard the official story of a false sacrifice. Its protagonists, lost in a place far from the fatherland, fighting dead wrapped in a huge Cuban flag. An image so strong that we are still overwhelmed. Even though life and the fatherland are, for me, a real presence, luminous, fertile, continuous and above all lasting, imposed on us constantly, as opposed to death.

Many slogans have a context, but our emphasis is on asphyxia, in the “no exit” we have welded an immobility that derives from DEATH.

“Fatherland or death, we shall overcome.”

“Whomever tries to overpower Cuba, will gather the dust of her soil soaked in blood but perish in the fight.”

“Our dear raising their arms, they will know to defend, still.”

“Even after death we are useful.”

“We all scream, it is better to drown ourselves in the sea, before betraying the glory that we have lived.”

At age nine I imagined “drowning ourselves in the sea” like the action of pulling a lever that would trigger a huge whirlpool that would drag us to the very bottom of the sea. My mother explained to me that it was a metaphor, but I kept seeing myself at the bottom, with the entire country.

On the Malecon, between the United States Interest Section in Cuba and our daily lives waves a sea of black flags.

Several of our friends lost their fathers in the wars in Africa.

The familiar goodbyes on the shore, those goodbyes that guaranteed the possibility of a journey marked the nineties with the exodus of the rafters.

Markers of my childhood: Terrorism, sabotage, threats, epidemics. Our parents forever paying a day’s wages to the Territorial Militia that defended us.

The popular tunnels, the shooting ranges. War reserves. Special period in times of peace. Evacuation plan. Trenches. Air raid sirens. “Every Cuban should learn to shoot and to shoot well.” Military training as a subject and the military service at the end of our university careers, essential to receive your degree. In the end, the daily possibility of a war, of death. The speeches reveal its imminence, then we felt it very close, it was next to us. Death has been a delicate film that unites and divides us.

Guaguancó music sets the air afire and says death calls us. Some heartrending boleros prefer death as their denouement. So many marvellous songs, classics that we will not forget not even after death, speaking of death.

I wonder why in hell I don’t just get used to its presence.

In the news and analysis of these days death is talked of as a possible solution. Is it about death that we must build a full life? Hunger turns to death and death is part of hunger that leaves us empty, weakened, grieving.

I want to learn to transform life from life itself.

I don’t want to just adjust to death. In the cemeteries, where I can visit the majority of my loved ones, I look and share with the life that finds its way under the angels and the cracks in the marble. I should greet death as normally. But I can’t stay quiet before it. I love the way Tomás Gutiérrez Alea recreates is, relating it to our everyday life, kidding around with its presence.

Today I am thinking of my mother Oya so united to Ikú. divinity of death. I look down the street, I keep thinking that Oya brings the storms, the fierce winds and hurricanes, lightning and thunder. She symbolizes the violent and impetuous character and lives in the entryway of the cemeteries. She represents the intensity of lugubrious sentiment, the world of the dead. All she is is the reincarnation of the ancestors, the lack of memory and the feeling of regret in a woman. The flag, the skirts and the scarves of Oya are filled with a combination of all the colors… except black.

I ask you Oya to help me understand death, because it lurks, and is on our path. We invoke its name often, often allude to is, and now it comes before us and introduces itself. What to do? Whomever is called must receive it.

Now, what face will we put on death?

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One response

10 08 2013
Marta

No creia ver algo asi en este blog ,en cambio hoy estoy realmente sorprendido en esta ocasion

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