Notes From Captivity X: The First Letter / Pablo Pacheco

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As soon as I started writing I lost the will to continue doing so. But after various hours of trying, I managed to write:

“My love,

I still harbor close memories of all the joyful days together, unified by love and respect for one another. Without any warnings, life twists our destiny. It would be selfish of me if I hide the fact that I think of you in every instant: your scent, your feminine figure, and all your love which fills my existence. All these memories are present, despite the fact that you are not physically here with me. At times, I feel as I if I am delusional, but then I think of you and I once again feel like living.

Life goes by slowly here, but it marches on nonetheless. Out there, life goes on. You must be strong, and don’t become discouraged because of the situation we are going through. If you do, that would hurt you, and it will also hurt our child, and we can’t allow that. Now, while I’m in captivity, I trust even more in your strength, willpower, and dedication. Jimmy needs more of you than of me, and besides, those who try to play the role of God in our country will not allow me to participate much in our child’s life. My love, you must be mother, father, friend, sister, and the guiding light of our little one. And you will achieve it.

One day, what we are currently living through will be part of the past, and we must keep our convictions strong if we wish to succeed. This place is not the end of the world, and we must remember that no sacrifice in the name of Cuba is too much. We must keep in mind that, at any time, hate and intolerance can attempt to challenge our lives, for this is the price of freedom, but now we must confront this with honor and dignity.

You must try all that you can so that our son does not see you crying, for although he is very young, he will notice that your tears are for my absence, and this may very well affect him. He trusts in you as much as I do. Now that I mention this to you, I have remembered the last words I told the prosecutor during that trial held against me on my 33rd birthday, “All the children in the world, including your own if you have any, would wish to have the parents of Jimmy Pacheco Garcia.” Do you remember those words, my love? You were very brave. You did not shed a single tear in front of the henchmen, and you urged family members of other dissidents to take the same stand. I felt so much pride for you at that moment, so much that I momentarily forgot the fact that I had just been condemned to 26 years of imprisonment.

I can barely even see here. Like I told you during the visit, they do not allow light bulbs here in the cell. And I started writing this letter rather late, for I could not muster up the valor to do so sooner. And there you go, we men behave like this in situations such as this one. But do not worry too much. I will be fine, and most importantly, I will be thinking of you and of our Cuba. That’s the most important part. Take care of our son and seek God, for only in Him shall we find peace. Very soon, I will once again write to you. The young men who accompany me in this cell have asked me to give you their regards. Remember that I love you.

PS: From time to time, I entertain myself by playing chess in different cells. But for the most part, all I do is think of you and Jimmy. When you write back to me, please tell me about the latest news regarding our country and the world.”

That night, I stayed up late contemplating about human destinies. I concluded that the future was absolutely unpredictable. Suddenly, I felt that tears escaped from my eyes, and that nostalgia grew around my heart. The next morning I handed the re-educator, Ricardo, the letter. Ten days later, it had reached the hands of Oleivys.

Translated by Raul G.

28 February 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.