Many years ago, when the inaptly named Special Period* started, I commented to my friends, in the get-togethers we used to have at my house: the worst thing about all this material decline is that it carries within itself the germ of moral decline.
Many years have gone by, and the inhabitants of my planet, increasingly accustomed to pretending in public, have by now assimilated it as something natural.
Scarcely a week ago, by pure coincidence, because it is not my custom, I turned on the TV at noon. They were showing a program where, at that moment, they were interviewing a Cuban actress who was very famous in the fifties, and later, without any explanation, disappeared from the TV screen. I am referring to Conchita Brando. An actress of very high caliber – singer, comedienne, dramatic actress, very good comic actress – in each of her many facets.
I was very happy to see her and at the same time it saddened me. At her eighty-seven years, she looked animated, jovial, but sad, like someone suddenly extracted from the darkest ostracism. She had been kept away from television, without any explanation, during more than a quarter century.
Many years ago, at the wedding of a mutual friend’s daughter, I spent the whole evening talking with Conchita, and she told me, as if complaining, that she could not understand why no one would call her for work, that she felt very well and was able to play roles appropriate for her age. She was still a very vital and beautiful woman.
On the TV program I mentioned, there were some interviews on the street, where they would ask passers-by about this actress. It was very painful for me to see how people would lie with impunity. Young people in their twenties, who I am sure never heard of her, and men and women whose faces reflected falsehood, would say shamelessly: we love to see her work, she is very good at any role she plays, etc.
I felt indignant. Far from being flattering to her, to me it was a mockery and a lack of respect to play these comments knowing that they were false. And I felt sorry for these people who, without any shame, are willing to pretend publicly.
*Translator’s note: The years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the withdrawal of its economic support for Cuba, with its devastating effects on the economy, was baptized: “A Special Period in a Time of Peace.”
Translated by: Espirituana
September 6, 2010