On Talent, Trustworthiness and Invisibility

Maria Matienzo Puerto

Maritza is my favorite.  She’s beautiful and intelligent.  She’s one of the most talented women I’ve ever known in my short but intense life.  I have nothing to say about her that isn’t positive.

Her beauty is not the type that dazzles.  However, when you spend just five minutes talking with her, she has an “I don’t know what” that makes it difficult to forget her.  That’s why by only saying her first name, those who know her can distinguish her among a thousand other Maritzas.

She writes and publishes books.  She is a genius at organizing and directing projects that can change the part of the world that surrounds her.  She has worked as a journalist for almost ten years and has been published in whatever magazine or newspaper she has wished.

Her talent doesn’t allow her to feel rivalry toward any of her colleagues.  She believes that we all have a certain space designed for us in this world, therefore there aren’t any reasons for undermining and envy.  I’ve never heard her say that she hates someone or wouldn’t share information with anybody.  Her friends can count on her.

BUT —and here comes the big “but”— Maritza is invisible.

This isn’t because she’s the product of my imagination.  No.  She exists, though with another name and another face.  Not because she lives in a parallel dimension.  No.

She’s invisible because she doesn’t belong to anything.  No one calls her to join anything.  She’s not on any cadre list of those who have been singled out to climb into a designated social or political ladder.

Let’s just say that her invisibility stems from her being covered by a shadow.

When the time came to give her advice, I was the first one to jump in.  “You should belong to something Maritza – to the communist youth league, to the Party, to the Women’s Federation.”  No response.  Her arguments are always a function of art and creation, of what she calls “the truly lasting.”

Over these ten years of our friendship, we have seen co-workers ready to sell their souls to the devil if necessary.  They get to travel, are selected to move up as leaders, they see their social and economic status improve…  And there stands Maritza, at the same starting point.  It’s as if she were an eternal adolescent, always beginning at zero.

No one looks toward her for those jobs that demand monitoring others, or denouncing what’s poorly done or criticizing governance – not even from the vantage point of culture.  Although her writings are read avidly among her friends and we all consider her exceptionally talented, they don’t award her in competitions and they limit her access to information.

I believe that a long time ago she was jettisoned into the black hole of those who are “untrustworthy.”  She’s one of those who will always remain in the shadow of those who know less than her; one of those who do not buckle in the face of power; one of those who will never direct an orchestra, a publishing house, a newspaper or a gallery, regardless of her many abilities – at least not while she’s here, on this island, under these conditions.

She believes it’s a blessing, but I see her melting, like a candle.  I believe she should move on into some other sphere, but I wouldn’t dare say that to her.  I wouldn’t know what path to direct her toward.

Maria Matienzo

Maria Matienzo Puerto: I dreamed once that I was a butterfly who had come from Africa and discovered that I had been alive for thirty years. From that time on, I constructed my world while I was sleeping: I was born in a magic city like Havana; I dedicated myself to journalism; I wrote and edited books for children; I met to discuss art with wonderful people; I fell in love with a woman. Of course, there are certain points of coincidence with the reality of my waking life and it’s that I prefer the silence of reading and the pleasure of a good movie.