Calzadilla is an old pain who passes for my father, though I’ve never pushed myself to get a DNA test. He’s a former soldier who reflects all the quirks of that occupation.
For an instant characterization, I’d say that he consists of the same defects and virtues of his commandant. However the home that we share in the Electrico community, [on the outskirts of the capital] assigned to him by the army, hardly resembles Fidel’s “Point Zero” residence.
I began my conflicts with this man as an adolescent, the same time that I began forming my own identity, a process that turned out being more difficult than climbing the Himalayas.
While he worked and spent long hours away from home, I could endure his occasional presence; but nowadays he’s always around, like a dark shadow moaning about the lack of attention his orders receive.
Now, he has signed up as a leader of the neighborhood Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) and we receive the visits of many semi-deaf and hollering veterans like himself. He also never misses the daily political program or a soap opera (preferably the trashy ones) turned up to full volume in the middle of the living room. Thus, my despair over leaving has returned.
The problem is that I don’t know where to go. I don’t have enough money to rent a place, much less buy a house illegally or pay to leave the country. So, I’ve begun to think about the micro-brigade housing construction movement.
Almost all my friends (those who haven’t already emigrated) are in the same situation, but none of them have made such a drastic decision. They prefer to throw up their hands and live with their parents versus spending nearly ten years in construction without having the least idea of how long it will take to earn the right to their own apartment.
No no, but no, no, no, on second thought. I would rather deal with my father, isolated in my concrete bunker and practicing self-control through breathing, than to waste a decade of my life behind a pick and shovel along with other desperate evictees.
Plus, maybe it’s possible that my father —now distanced from the alienating practices of a military unit— is a man capable of changing? It’s true that with 800 pesos a month for retirement (about $40 USD) and having remained blindfolded for more than 50 years, it will be difficult for him to see again. But I’m not giving up hope.
Lately he’s been reading frequently (previously he hardly ever did), and among the accounts of veterans that I’ve seen him thumbing through, there was nothing less than The Metamorphosis, by Kafka! Is it possible for an ex-soldier to transform himself into an existentialist?