The Granma Newspaper Pickle

Erasmo Calzadilla

My new initiative.

I dedicate this diary post to those who accuse me of being a faultfinder who proposes nothing.

The Granma newspaper, “the official organ of the Communist Party of Cuba,” is evolving – I have no doubt of this.  Proof can be found in the relatively recent appearance of a weekly feature that has comments and even constructive criticism from people with ideological perspectives similar to the paper’s.

Another piece of undeniable evidence of this progress was the appearance a few months ago of an article in which a journalist wrote of the difficulties he faced in practicing his profession. The paper printed the fact that he found himself hamstrung by State institutions designed to prevent such reporting.  Without a doubt Granma is progressing, though perhaps at the same pace as the evolution of the species: slowly but surely.

But the deterioration I’m referring to in the title does not concern the daily’s evolving content, but the quality of the paper on which it’s printed.

I know of many families that, when confronted with the challenge of obtaining toilet paper, have accustomed themselves over the past decades to using the large smooth pages of the official Party organ as a substitute.  The Monday to Saturday editions of Granma accumulate in some corner of my house that my grandmother collects several neighbors who are not so interested in the text.

As for me, I see nothing humiliating in using the paper this way.  If such an act is the price of dignity or of sleeping with a clean conscience, I pay it with pleasure.  Plus, this takes maximum advantage of pulp obtained from trees, therefore minimizing environmental damage.

I believe the authorities should take advantage of this popular initiative to draw more readers closer to their pages (the bathroom throne is the preferred place of many for reading the news).

Thinking of this, and of the huge number of people who resort to using the paper in this fashion, engineers should undertake certain initiatives in this respect.

For example: they can select inert inks that don’t irritate the anal membrane, and with a little more effort perhaps they could produce an antiseptic Granma.  This might prevent someone from contracting an infection in that delicate area.  However, this doesn’t seem to be the aim of the most popular Cuban daily.

With the passing of time, the pages of the official organ of the Party have become decreasingly absorbent.  Of late, the ink runs with ease and you find yourself with blackened buttocks after wiping.  The paper, now hard and fragile, often falls apart with the slightest pressure, and you end up a smeary mess.  Ultimately you find yourself “rubbed the wrong way” after having to clean yourself with it every day.

One of those chance discoveries

However, for those who still consider me to be a faultfinder who proposes nothing, I want to “socialistically” share with the readers —especially Cubans and Cubaphiles— a solution that I’ve found to this growing problem.  It’s undeniably a temporary solution, but it serves the purpose.

To solve the previously identified problems, it first occurred to me (and surely to many others) to moisten the page to simulate the former Granma texture. In the long run, however, this solution creates more problems than it solves.  For example the page starts to fall apart and you often wind up cleaning yourself with your hand.  On top of this is the fact that water can be an additional source of infection. Likewise, if that weren’t enough, water tends to dissolve chemical substances making them easily absorbed into the body.

By chance, as all great discoveries occur, one day I wet and squeezed the paper as if I was going to use it immediately, but then I didn’t need it; so I spread over the bathroom curtain holder.

When returning to the bathroom hours later, I found that the page had dried out; but now it seemed softer and stronger than before.  I conducted an experiment with myself, and its sensory properties had in fact improved substantially.

From then on I adopted this inexpensive, homemade, and self-managed method of improving the quality of my life, while contributing to the protection of nature.  I hope my discovery can be applicable to someone else.

3 thoughts on “The Granma Newspaper Pickle

  • If Granma should fail you again, I can bring you several copies of a couple of right-wing dailies on my next trip to Cuba.

  • Erasmo, you better hope that GRANMA doesn’t go entirely digital! (If that did happen, however, you could always purchase several thick tomes on Marxism Leninism from a bookstore, or check them out from the library, to serve the same purpose.)

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