Now Is Not a Good Time

By Pedro Pablo Morejon

A neighborhood CDR meeting.

HAVANA TIMES – I have a neighbor who is 60-something years old, and he likes house parties a lot. He really does have a spectacular tenor voice and he is always a special guest at any house party that is put on. He sings any kind of 10-line poem and tune (décima). He asks me to compose 10-line poems, from time to time.

I remember that he asked me for one back in 2003. He wanted to sing it as a joke, in reference to the arrival of some landline phones that were being handed out by the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), and a committee would give them out by reviewing the “merits” of every applicant beforehand. Those interested would need to hand in a kind of autobiography, which would summarize their revolutionary activity. A few phones per block or neighborhood, and lots of applicants.

It ended up being a low-quality 10-line poem, but it was very funny. I’m not a poet, at all. Plus, I had a fat notebook from my 20s, with over 100 romantic and corny poems – sonnets, 10-line poems, freestyle poetry, etc. – which I would be embarassed to show anyone today.

What happened with the phones didn’t come as a surprise. I went to watch one of the meetings when they would tell locals who was going to get one. Only three people did. My wife at the time, a newly-graduated dentist had applied for one.

We knew that her chances were slim compared to everyone else. For example, there was an old man who had a reputation of being a long-time snitch, the kind that come with their chest puffed up at any event, dressed in their sleepless military uniforms, proudly displaying dozens of medals.

There were also other applicants with better collateral when it came to revolutionary duty.

Well, anyway, the show really kicked off when they announced the three lucky winners.

Somebody said that they didn’t agree because they always did their CDR shift and had gone on a mission to Angola, while so-and-so had children living in the US. So-and-so said that had nothing to do with it because he was a blood donor and belonged to the Party. Nobody dared to stick it to the former combatant, but things were heating up.

By the time the women had started to take part, the discussion had already taken a really degrading turn. That so-and-so is a worm, that so-and-so is a wanker, that your daughter is a real jinetera (whore)… that was the last straw.

Throwing in the towel, my wife went home, going far away from that disorderly riffraff. I watched the scene unfold with a mixture of disgust and embarassment for those involved, but I have to admit, it was also a little fun.

That week, I learned that there had even been fights over this whole phone business at some neighborhoods CDRs. These phones were “killers” like the Panda TV sets, decades ago, as they were called back then in popular humor.

Recently, my neighbor asked me to write some verses for him about the new Coronavirus. But no, I won’t do it this time. Like the saying rightly goes: “Now is not a good time”.

Pedro Morejón

I am a man who fights for his goals, who assumes the consequences of his actions, who does not stop at obstacles. I could say that adversity has always been an inseparable companion, I have never had anything easy, but in some sense, it has benefited my character. I value what is in disuse, such as honesty, justice, honor. For a long time, I was tied to ideas and false paradigms that suffocated me, but little by little I managed to free myself and grow by myself. Today I am the one who dictates my morale, and I defend my freedom against wind and tide. I also build that freedom by writing, because being a writer defines me.

5 thoughts on “Now Is Not a Good Time

  • May 18, 2020 at 10:13 am

    Reality always ‘ muerde.’

  • May 18, 2020 at 2:44 am

    ‘……but I have to admit, it was a little fun’.
    This article is darkly humorous.
    It sounds a bit like an episode of ‘Vivir del Cuento’.

  • May 16, 2020 at 2:33 pm

    La Cubanada.

  • May 16, 2020 at 12:23 pm

    Fortunately the cell-phone eventually arrived in Cuba, removing the importance of land-lines. But Pedro Morejon is correct about them being reserved for the Party faithful. My wife, despite her significant role in education, was denied a landline, because she was not a Party member.
    But, for the Castro family with a 27% shareholding through RAFIN SA in ETECSA, the cell-phone is a financial bonanza! It is interesting that following Raul Castro’s visit to the Elysee Palace at the invitation of Francois Mitterand and being given the opportunity to speak publicly “our political systems are different”, ETECSA has only purchased Peugeot vehicles, unlike other regime controlled businesses buying junky Chinese Geelys.
    Macron has reason to pander to the Castro family.

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