The Forgotten Dead / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

She is a woman alone, devout Catholic from a famous neighborhood on the outskirts, and lays to rest all her dead in a family pantheon. The Columbus Cemetery, sooner rather than later, will reunite her with them and with God. Holy word. The sadness of life is not eternal.

Alas, now the meeting will have to wait until the resurrection programmed win the final trailer of the Bible. Apocubalypse. Because a few weeks ago she discovered that the remains of her eight beloved corpses had disappeared. Necrophagia, period. Not a molar not a hair nor a belt buckle nor the sole of a shoe to comfort her. They stole from her the imagined dead of her memory. Her biography is worth nothing. Dead woman walking, from one office to another of the Cuban necropolis, where they all take her for stark raving mad, despite (or precisely because of) her brandishing the stamped papers of eight interments, exhumations signed by the then administrator (today buried or exiled, it’s all the same), annual receipts of punctual payment, among other out-of-date formalities.

To make matters worse, the solitary lady is terrified and incapable of telling of her horror in public (the terror is simply this muteness, this impossibility of speaking: it happened to me). The victim does not want to politicize this vandalism. She prefers, instead, to place total confidence in the Cuban burial system. She appeals to the relevant officials (the same ones who robbed her). And she has even written to Caridad Diego and Eusebio Leal, a fine pair of confe$$or$ for her unspeakable, almost indecent, pain.

When I begin to tell this horrifying story, to stoke the indignation and chaos in Havanada, it turns out I’m a jerk. The families of many of my friends cheerfully share similar stories. It’s not the end of the world by any means. The provincial cemeteries are a haven for thieves. Almost everyone, at some point, has been robbed of one or two little corpses buried in the holy earth of the Revolution (owned, incidentally, by the Office of the Historian, who is owned in turn the State Council: perhaps our lady was right to choose them as her addressees and to reject me).

It is a thing of witches with the complicity of corrupt officials and undertakers (those who dropped the coffin of Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, with new uniforms and professionally trained muscles, there aren’t any starving employees at the cemetery, rather a much more interior ministry: in fact they are still guarding his grave who knows if it’s to profit from his democratizing spoils).

There are a thousand and one tragedies cooked with the seasoning of the dead (the children would be the most coveted, along with the Chinese, that delicacy). But not a single on of these recipes is to stir the Good: we Cubans wear ourselves out only to further destroy our existence, never to free ourselves or cure ourselves of Evil. With this rotted cuttings of flesh and bone fearful spells are created to kill other Cubans in turn, in a revolting spiral that ethnological beauticians of Catauro magazine would call, “the crucible of Cubanness.”

For the moment, especially if you don’t live on the Island because they banished you or you fled years ago, I challenge you to look in your family vault. At best you’re missing an aunt of your soul, poor thing, who you helped with vitamins and minerals until the end of her slow and irreversible final illness. At worst you no longer have parents or are an orphan of the third generation because: 1) they really died, 2) they were fucking stolen, 3) you don’t know it when you humble yourself to ask for an Entry Permit to put a flower on no one.

Perhaps because of this even the beggars are asking to be cremated in Cuba. Renouncing God’s wrapping so as not to end up poisoning some neighbor in a devil’s whorehouse among drums and alcohol. But not event that. The dust always works. And is affordable.

Compatriot of open-air corpses, forgive my insistence with a morbid little classic horror film, but, have you checked your dead?

From Penultimos Dias

August 30 2012