Convict 1959-0711

She was one of so many recluses of misfortune, of those by failing to use the olive green conscience were deprived of liberty. They gave her permission to go out and she left without baggage, like the images they like to give to poets. She thought that with her backpack on her back with the most necessary items was enough. That resulted in correspondence documentation being indispensable in the country in which she sought safe conducts. At the exit port, the accredited officer, after reviewing her papers three times, put on six seals and authorized her licence. She got on the sky blue boat towards a new life without looking back. She did all this quickly, because she feared that someone inconvenient would grab her arm at the last minute.

She took her first lungful of air breathing deeply and stunningly full. She realized then that she should repeat the act slowly, for as hungry for emancipation as she was, it was preferable to gradually assimilate her recent condition. She delighted in rescuing forgotten scents; tastes that she’d already lost and to discover new ones that were pleasingly new. She felt small and disoriented in this unknown environment, but she rejoiced to see how others exercised the rights that had been stolen from her.

She didn’t wait long to look for work; she liked to be independent and satisfy her desires without asking permission from anyone. She began by cleaning the bathrooms at an establishment for a salary which, after paying the rent and the rest of her bills, only allowed her one daily meal and a café con leche at night. It wasn’t much, but winter was making its entrance and there wasn’t time to choose.

The first days were spent beautifully, like a romance novel. After, they seemed more like a melodrama, with nostalgia for what was left behind mixed with the asphyxiating smell of bathroom disinfectants. Her first overcoat of good quality took almost a whole week’s salary and she had to look for an extra job to make up for the rest of her expenses. At night, she fell so brokenly into bed that her dreams decomposed into fragments. As she put together the scattered pieces by insomnia, she began to give names to the objects to lessen the thirst for human warmth in the midst of her existential snows. In the morning, she woke up dizzy, because poor sleep all night on her pillow kicked her in the neck.

After six months she had a better wardrobe than she had ever dreamed of. This way she learned that starting from scratch — without any inheritances — and receiving an adequate salary, she could obtain the most necessary things and live from the fruits of her labor. But she noticed that recently the line of her life refused to bend, that she was a prisoner of the apathy produced by daily sameness and repetitive acts, and the sap was drying out – that with which she seasoned her distant life.

At one year, she began to reexamine her past conduct and old concepts. She asked herself if she hadn’t been too intolerant in judging certain acts of others or if she hadn’t known how to defend her rights when she felt cheated. Also, if it was normal to bear grudges because they had penalized her dreams. She was so mesmerized in her meditation that she began to think that she might be suffering a type of tropical “Stockholm syndrome”. Anyway, she packed what she could of what she had acquired during that period, took its weight, and she found herself next to a metal bird again. She took one last look at what she could see of that beautiful and generous territory; she got on board the airplane and returned to Cuba.

Translated by: JT

August 1 2011