By Marlene Caboverde Caballero*
“…. I shall wait for you under the green elm,
Under the leafless elm.
I shall wait until the last one has returned
And beyond. “ Bertolt Brecht
They condemned him to the exile of silence, to the punishment of the most sordid solitude; two life sentences they hanged like a piece of iron from his neck, and cast him into the void of a cell, into the empire of evil in a prison. However, and despite everything, he laughed.
They, who tried him and convicted him, did not suspect that he would manage to erect, behind bars, that country in which a man and a woman would never be at risk of wearing out, not even from so many kisses.
They wanted to gnaw away his will, and so he turned Silvio’s “The Fool” into a hymn against rats. They sought to usurp his righteousness, but along came Cardenal, a newborn chick, featherless and death cold, like a renewal in the soul of a friend’s worth.
Someone thought that, so as to put an end to his joy, they would close his file, erase the case, ignore its existence at the old Victorville of gray walls. But solidarity dawned in thousands of hands, faces and voices that light his days with those “we love you”, “don’t give up”, “we’re with you”, “we wait for you”, “we will free you”.
And so the smile on his face grew, so loathed and cursed by the inquisitors of freedom. They decided wistfulness for time and distance would eventually obliterate him if they persisted in denying him the hugs, lips and warm breast of his wife. But all he had to do was look at that springtime mouth leaping from a photograph and he would see himself in her eyes, and she would speak to him and give him back the encounters, the promises, the names of his children, all visible, all possible, all floating somewhere in the universes.
The agony of the two life sentences failed, and those who believed in the infallibility of torment were crushed, amid the embarrassment and the defeat, by the joy that endured on the face of that man.
And, to top it all, they call him Cuba … The livers writhe of those who persist on pestering him with the knives of sorrow. And besides, he gives out drawings of seagulls, rabbits and cucumbers to the other prisoners who want to comfort the children who wait for them at home, and he also makes the visiting room and courtyard burst with laughter, an unusual joy.
He will not last two life sentences, they decide resolved, even relieved, those who condemned him to the exile of silence and punishment of solitude. “Idiots!” he thinks because he only just turned 45. It is June 4, and he talks to the mirror, mocks his baldness, remembers Cardenal again, and he is happy as a child.
After almost twelve years, those of dry spirit and short sight are left in the rear of that simple formula of Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, which entails only believing in hope.
* Journalist for municipal Radio Jaruco and coordinator of its “Wings of Freedom” program, dedicated to our five heroes