Irina Pino

CARLOS RUIZ DE LA TEJERA.  Photo: Juan Suarez
CARLOS RUIZ DE LA TEJERA. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — The phone wouldn’t stop ringing. News of a sudden death always draw attention. People want to find out the minutest detail (I don’t know why). There’s always a certain degree of morbid curiosity in the air, I suppose that’s normal.

When someone dies, the energy about them is transformed. An artist has died, his heart has stopped beating, he didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to his friends. The cold hospital ward was the place where he took his last breaths. Carlos Domingo Ruiz de la Tejera, a Cuban theater and film actor, a humorist who delighted audiences with his well-known monologues (such as those having to do with Cuban public buses, candles and Halley’s Comet), has died.

For nearly 40 years, he decorated his performances with the verses of Mario Benedetti, Eduardo Galeano, Thelma Nava, Dulce Maria Loynaz, Fayad Jamis and even Jose Marti. He offered us Mother Teresa’s words of wisdom, calling on us to become better people, to be strong and to see hope around us – to struggle for life.

Life is a tragedy, tame it
Life is a struggle, accept it
Life is a game, play it
Life is joy, be deserving of it
La vida es la vida, defiéndela. Life is life, defend it

-Mother Teresa

He faced pain and illness like many others. An 82-year-old body is naturally worn out. But he never told people of his problems, he was only interested in his work. He was addicted to acting.

He was seen on the Cuban screen under the direction of Tomas Gutierrez Alea (in Los Sobrevivientes, “The Survivors”). He worked for many years in the Teatro Estudio theater company directed by renowned actress Raquel Revuelta. He portrayed the inquisition priest in Bertolt Brecht’s Galileo Galilei. He delighted audiences with Moliere’s The Bourgeois Gentleman. He gave his all, true to himself and others. The Cuban and world stages will be forever grateful to him.

Smile, though your heart is aching
Smile, even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through
for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile what’s the use of crying
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you’ll just
Smile

– Charles Chaplin

He wasn’t perfect. He fought for things to work well, he was a perfectionist. There will be those who will point out his explosive nature, his fits whenever he perceived something wrong. He was nevertheless a friend, someone with the spark of youth who knew how to ward off sadness well.

Those who know his virtues will say goodbye to him with a smile. “Farewell, Carlos. Don’t ever leave. This is what we, your friends, want to tell you.”

Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

2 thoughts on “Farewell to Carlos Ruiz de la Tejera

  • Several times I went to the “peña” of Carlos Ruiz and guests at the Napoleonic Museum in Havana. What stands out from those was always leaving with a smile on my face and a light uplifting feeling.

  • Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjold, Swedish Diplomat and second United Nations Secretary General from 10th April,1953-18th September,1961, died in a mysterious plane crash. In gathering up his belongings, this quotation was found in his bible and I quote, “The day you were born, everyone was happy; you cried alone. Make your life such, so that, in your last hour, all others will be weeping and you will be without a tear to shed. Then you can calmly face death when it comes.” End of quote. This quotation seems to be a fitting tribute to brother Carlos Ruiz De La Tejera who died suddenly. He arrived on planet earth. He lived, he contributed, he reached out and touched people’s lives and he has returned from whence he came to report of his stewardship. We should all attempt to do the same and try to transform the world into a much better place than how we met it..

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