Whatever You’re Going to Do, Do It Soon

Erasmo Calzadilla

Photo by Chip Cooper

I’m afraid because of the things I write in Havana Times.  I’m convinced they won’t torture me, at least not like was done by Batista or the Latin American dictatorships.  They won’t pull out my fingernails, run electric current through my body, shoot me on the side of a road or drop me into the sea from an airplane, but I fear losing my job.  I’ve worked at the University of Havana since I was fired from another university, INSTEC.

It’s not finding myself without a wage that scares me.  Nor do I worry too much about being dissociated from teaching; contact with students is great, but I can find other roads.

What keeps me on edge is the fear of going through the rough moment in which they call you in, judge you and kick you out.  I’ve not gotten used to that.

To make it more theatrical, so the lesson serves as example, they often put on a show before other colleagues, who at that moment drop their jaws in the shock of discovering how seditious you really were and that they hadn’t realized it.  I cannot hide that they’ve also instilled certain values in me, such as shame, and ridding myself of these is more difficult than I had thought.

I understand that behind such a fear is insecurity.  Maybe it doesn’t sound good, but that’s the way it is.  But what am I going to do about it?  I write with pleasure for Havana Times, no one or nothing forces me to, but another part of me is not sure… father follows me, burdening me with his demands.

Every time I run into someone who I suspect will be the person to call me into the administration’s office, I look in their eyes, I study them.  I later play back their small talk in my mind and become uneasy if they were evasive or seemed to be concealing something… I’m not happy with having such worries, but I have them.

Sometimes I hope they just end up calling me in, to get this over with for once and for all. Certainly, said one commentator, such a behavior is characteristic of a boy…but does anyone have any remedy?

5 thoughts on “Whatever You’re Going to Do, Do It Soon

  • Hola Erasmos,
    siento mucho que tu situación no se haya estabilzado y que además tengas que vivir con el miedo diario de que te hagan otra vez un juicio público – aunque aquí es algo inhabitual me imagino que tiene que ser fuerte y peor que el “gran juicio” me imagino el peso de la desconfianza entre ti y tus collegas que generan estas humillaciones. Siempre recuerda que eres una persona muy rica (integral dirían ustedes, ha, ha) en muchos aspectos y que tu integridad moral te ayudará a sobrellevar estos choques.

    Un abrazo grande: Martina

  • Erasmo, there will be one day again in Cuba when people will not be afraid to speak their mind and that day is coming soon. It is coming because of what you and people like you dare to do. The more people we can get to speak their mind the more we will be reversing the role and instead of you feeling fear those government officials are the ones that will feel the fear.

  • Fear is something we have in common in Cuba and here in Yumaland–and shame also–though the latter not so much, as in Cuba, before your colleagues, for when the axe falls here it falls swiftly and silently; you are ushered off the premisis even before your co-workers are aware of your departure. Our deep shame here, which we try keep from family and friends, is about being jobless. Added to this are the economic terrors of having to avoid phone calls or knocks on the door by creditors, of having the utilities cut off, of being evicted and, ultimatey, err, of having your credit card declined (even as you attempt to use it to book a reservation for a flight to a distant city where you’ve made the final cut and landed a job interview). Although F.D.R. once said “The only thing we have to fear…is fear itself!” there seems to be a great distance between theory and practice.

  • I’m so sorry you have to feel this way, and so, so grateful for the small but growing picture of Cuba you and your colleagues are supplying me. It astonishes me, a Westerner, that you don’t feel worry about a lack of wage but that the potential shame is greater. It is the reverse here, where there is so much to be ashamed of really but people never seem to feel it.

    Please keep going with your diaries, all of you, unless the worry becomes too much…

  • I appreciate what you’re saying and I know it is the truth. I would like to share with you how it feels over here in Gringolandia. One never knows when the ax will fall, and who will stab one in the back at the office. The academic world is equally fraught. While I am in no way jealous of your situation, the stress that I feel is probably even greater, at this point in time, and with the bills I must pay every month. Just a thought.

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