14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Generation Y, Havana, 10 August 2021 — I always knew your name was Teo. It is a long story of childhood, literature, an imaginary friend and confidence in believing that you were just around the corner, we just needed to meet. On 11 August 1995 I finally held you in my arms and smelled you for a long time (I am one of those people who widens my nose when someone approaches for the first time).
Yes, that little being in my arms smelled like Teo. As I always dreamed (a mix between Bruce Lee and Diogenes … don’t ask me why I define you that way, everyone who knows you knows the answer). When we introduced you to the closest family, there was no shortage of responses in the style of “Give that kid a real name!” But what else were we going to call you…
Quirky and sharp, you speak little but can destroy or elevate with one sentence. When you had to repeat for the first time, in school, the slogan “Pioneers for communism, we will be like Che,” you refused. You asserted then that Guevara was dead, and you didn’t want to be. The first insult you learned was “filthy” and we had to listen to this from you for several years until you used more vulgar ones.
At the age of five you recited Heberto Padilla’s “tell the truth, at least tell your truth”
On a trip to the native city of your father, Camagüey (the cradle of good pronunciation of the language on this island, according to its own residents), they asked you if you came from the Peninsula beyond the seas because you pronounced “all the letters of all the words”… At the age of five you recited Heberto Padilla’s “tell the truth, at least tell your truth.” At seven you learned German, knew snow and became universal, a condition you have to this day.
Teo, you have connected profoundly with many people. In four words you have defined what it would have taken your father and me (insolent tongues) half an hour of explanation. You throw a phrase like an X-ray that pierces the body, a sentence of darts that pierce the mind. There are people who fear so much sincerity and withdraw, people who cannot stand you. It is, my son, that you are a free man. Free from the inside out, which is the best way to be.
In November 2009, you had to face the reality of having your two parents arrested, you were only 14 years old then but you behaved like a millennial adult: you made phone calls, you reported, you spoke on the radio and you waited. The reunion was like that of the grandfather who receives his two lost grandchildren with love and caresses… everyone who knows you knows that I am not lying. You are like that.
You throw a phrase like an X-ray that pierces the body, a sentence of darts that pierce the mind
Since then, you have had to experience everything and you have done it in that stoic way that does not seek applause or commiseration. You have done it because you have done it, serving as a father to your parents, something that should not be… never should be, but you have assumed it without complaining. I have not met anyone as mature, equanimous and confident as you in these more than four decades that I have lived.
Teo, you had to grow up so fast. Wary of the informants, the false friends who only wanted to use you as a bridge towards us, the lifelong whistleblowers, the classmates who wanted to earn points by making “life impossible” for the son of the dissidents and, however, like Antonio Machado’s verse, you ended up sprouting “serene spring” … which is “in the good sense of the word, good.”
Fashion, material displays, famous brands, the shocks of the moment … only achieve in you an answer very similar to that which is read at the end of the novel “The Glass Bead Game” by Herman Hesse, when one of the protagonists says to the other, who tries to challenge him and provoke him: “You are tiring yourself Joseph.”
I reiterate: you were already here, you always were and we have been only the modest vehicle for you to continue living
Whoever wants to get you out of your boxes and annoy you exhausts himself, you are made of hard, imperishable and beautiful clay. You are from a generation that is going to live and make the Cuba of the future arrive as soon as possible. You have no debts with the past, nor guilt.
Have we deserved such a child? Were these the circumstances to be able to have this luminous being among us? Probably not, but how happy we are to have been part of your shelter, your stairs to climb, your pole to jump and the logs ready to burn in the fire of your existence.
Teo, it’s been 26 years since I held you in my arms for the first time and I smelled you with the force of this nose (quite big by the way… jejeje). I reiterate: you were already here, you were always here and we have been only the modest vehicle for you to continue living, so that your strength continues flowing and your wise imprint prevails over so much tension and so much folly.
By the way, Teo, you smell like eternity. Did you know?
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