Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
25 September 2015
I came to Reykjavik because I was told that my father was still alive. It’s true; I saw him. Here he lives. Him, and the rest of my wasted words.
Sounds with no meaning that breathe again around me. In the lonely violence of the landscapes. In the vertigo of each night, as I look out at the abyss of this planet from the balcony. In the smoke of a bay that is all the bays and is none, and is exclusively that that evaporates in the putrid and puta mouth of Havana.
To smell his beard. To seek refuge under his shirt while he rocked me in the oldest armchair in town; wooden melodies. To recall the scary stories he told me before dawn to soothe my asthma and my fear of dying; stories full of mystery or perhaps myths about an invented island he called Íslandi. Ice, andi, spirit, ís. Tender and strange lands pronounced in the same way he pronounced my name: Landi
A nowhere where God wasn’t shy as in the tropics, so He talked each and every day in a fire language about His long-lasting love for the Son of Man. Which for us meant His long-lasting love for a man in Cuba and his Cuban son. Which in turn meant that death wouldn’t be true, although it already was. At least not mine; at least not my father’s. As a child I longed for not ever to die and for dad not ever to leave me behind. Papi, pipo, pabbi, papá.
I came to Reykjavik because we left unsolved a painful puzzle of chess. Anguish and August; summer in Cuba is the cruelest month. Though my father was generous enough as to play the role of a cold Russian villain, Boris. While he allowed me to play the role of a hot American hero, Bobby. The seventies in socialism were meant to last forever. We two were much of Spassky losing to Fischer. Unlikely lives, biographies devoid of dates. Words never to be lost that we couldn’t find ever after. Miracles of the magic hat of the Moomin family. Marvels out of the thousand and one dear dictionaries that were of so little help: fortíðarþrá, skak, fjarlægð, eyjan.
I came to Reykjavik because the force of ungravity leaves no choice. Memory is like a broken magnet with northalgia corroding the hope of any orientation. Here the death of my father regains the lucid lightness of its unreality. Here the death of his son is to be less orphan and more unique. Here our hands hold again our heads leaning over the boreal board. Here I clean once more the short-sighted snowflakes from his glasses of a Grandmaster with no title at all. Only to challenge him more, to defend myself more from him, with no farewell and no despair: Pawn-King 4.
Dad, papi, pipo, pabbi, papá, it’s your turn.
Translated by the author himself