Denying my Father a Visit
One afternoon, the weather abruptly changed. It seemed as if the fury of the gods was attacking “The Polish” and all its inhabitants. Suddenly, a heavy rain shower invaded my cell. If I hadn’t been awake at the time, all my belongings would have gotten soaked. The water entered through the roof of my cell with strength. When the storm finally concluded, I got rid of some water with the old shirt I used to keep warm each night. I had to use this article of clothing because I did not have a towel, and since the guards did not allow me to have a mop, I had to get on the floor to dry my cell as if I was some sort of four-legged animal.
When it was time to count the prisoners, Major Brito, the chief of Aguica Prison’s Re-education system, passed by my cell and sarcastically told me, “Pacheco, your dad passed by here today, but a visit was not possible.” My instincts reacted in the face of this soldier who had a reputation for being one of the worst henchmen of the prisons. I felt that he wanted to psychologically torture me, so I was bent on avoiding this at all costs. “Major,” I replied, “Don’t worry about it. My dad knows that today is not the visit day and I didn’t tell him to come. Besides, it’s good that this happen to him so that he can realize that he is wrong in defending a system which I oppose with all my strength. All of you with your abuses and crimes are proving to your followers themselves that communism is incompatible with humanity. Thanks a lot for the information,” I concluded.
Brito was cut short after hearing my words and told me, “You are all unpredictable and ungrateful. I would think you would get happy to hear about your father.” I laughed out loud and replied, “You would be happy if I became worried and started asking you why they didn’t let a father see his imprisoned son after traveling 300 kilometers. No soldier, I am in jail because of my ideas and not because of family visits. But regardless, thanks for your interest and for trying to cheer me up.”
I spent the rest of the afternoon and night thinking of my father. He had given part of his life to defend a revolution which jailed his son just for writing and dissenting without rules. The mother of two of his children had left the country. My father had little left to fight for and his ignorance made him see life in black and white. He did not want to accept reality. With time, I understood that he was yet another victim of the dictatorship.
During the next few weeks I suffered a lot in silence for my dad. I felt a sense of guilt about his failed trip. When I was finally able to see him he told me that he cried, and not because of the heavy rain which soaked him, but because he was not able to see me. But he understood that everything in life has a price and my life’s price was a sacrifice for my ideas. From that moment on, my father and I understood each other better and we respected the space which ideas has imposed on us with time. We never argued about politics again and I thank God for that.
Translated by Raul G.
April 9, 2011
NOTE: Pablo Pacheco was one of the prisoners of Cuba’s Black Spring, and the initiator of the blog “Behind the Bars.” He now blogs from exile in Spain and his blog – Cuban Voices from Exile – is available in English translation here. To make sure readers find their way to his new blog, we will continue to post some of his articles here, particularly those relating his years in prison in Cuba.