The Dead and Living

Look at me, do you see how I am? I finish working and go straight home. Today’s Saturday. I should go out and have a little fun, but I dont have any money or desire. Photo: Caridad
Look at me, do you see how I am? I finish working and go straight home. Today’s Saturday. I should go out and have a little fun, but I don't have any money or desire. Photo: Caridad

By Irina Echarry

It’s said that intellectuals are the vanguard of thought in a society. That’s true, but we cannot forget the rest, those who are not academics, those who add value to day-by-day life through their personal experiences.

Near my house is a bus depot, where the vehicles are gassed up and are parked overnight until put back into service the following day.

One day, a frightened dog shot out of there, running toward the street. Next, a man in overalls came out, who seeing me surprised by the animal’s sprint commented:

“That dog’s scared to death, the poor thing.”

“I guess they kicked it out,” I responded.

“No, it was born dead, can’t you see?” he replied.

For a moment his remark seemed crazy; the dog was running, blood was circulating in its veins. Then I figured that the man must have been referring to the creature’s thinness, since you could count its ribs in only a glance.

I continued walking alongside the man and asked him why he had said that.

“We’re just that dog; we’re scared of death, and we don’t realize that we’re dead. Look at me, do you see how I am? I finish working and go straight home. Today’s Saturday. I should go out and have a little fun, but I don’t have any money… or desire.  The worst thing is to be dead and living.

“Don’t say that, life is beautiful,” I said.

“Yeah, real beautiful. Tomorrow is Easter, and my wife wants to go to church… why?  At home we’ve met all the prohibitions of Holy Week without even trying to, mainly the one about not eating meat… we celebrate Holy Week all year round…”

The man spoke with a mocking tone.  He spoke loud, straightforwardly, without fear of being heard.  I liked that. Plus, it made me realize that he wasn’t dead.

Dead people don’t say what they feel, and they don’t allow others to. They’re the people who don’t grasp that we can be dead by inaction, by disillusionment.

The dead ones are his co-workers, who play their music loud, not permitting the neighborhood rest; those who drink nonstop before climbing up to take the wheel, without keeping in mind that they’re transporting human lives. The dead are the people who go to work the next day without objecting to anything, knowing that their pay won’t cover even the most basic necessities of the month.

A person who expresses themselves out loud is alive. Nor do they fear death; to the contrary, they cling to life and fight for its betterment.

Irina Echarry

Irina Echarry: I enjoy reading, going to the movies and spending time with my friends. Many of the people I love are dead, or are no longer in Cuba. I will do my best to transmit my thoughts, ideas or worries via these pages so you can get to know me. I will give an idea of my age, since it helps explain certain things. I’m over thirty-five, and I think that’s enough information. I don’t have any children yet, or nieces or nephews. There are days when I transform myself into a child with no age at all in order to see life from another angle. It helps me break the monotony and survive in this strange world.

One thought on “The Dead and Living

  • May 4, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Same old problem: Cuba is still being slowly ground into the dust by imperialism. And most people are simply not going to look beyond their immediate circumstances for the causes. So they naturally blame the immediate causes — and not the more fundamental, actual ones. It’s quite natural to think this way, indeed — and such thinking goes on here all the time too; except that in the West, even grinding poverty allows more “opportunity” than in socialist Cuba. But that is changing too. And more quickly now.

    As far as I can see, your only hope of not being slowly strangled to death by the imperialists lies in developing together, collectively, alongside the other countries of the ALBA confederation (however much this is a paper entity right now). If you can get to the point of finally being able to deal with people’s basic needs, then they can start griping about not having the latest new fashion, or entertainment toy. And that would be an advance, wouldn’t it?

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