Caridad

Intimacies - Photo: Caridad
Intimacies - Photo: Caridad

They give them all a uniform: dark pants, light shirt and sometimes a cute necktie that neither the police nor the military use, nor anyone else within the realm of those who wear uniforms.  It’s as if they wanted to give this civil army made up of those commonly known as Watchmen, that tragicomic touch possessed by clowns.

There are several of them in every relatively important work center.  Sometimes there are only night watchmen to avoid robberies.  Others are positioned at the entrance to certain centers, including cultural institutions, and they take on themselves the right – or perhaps someone gave it to them – of denying entrance or giving out misinformation (certainly their work is not that of welcoming nor of offering information).

In any case, the work they perform most assiduously is that of checking the bags and purses of those who enter and leave.  This definitely represents an entertaining distraction for some of them.

My friend Aniri began to work a short while ago in one of those offices guarded by the uniformed guys.  Many of them, according to what she tells me, are over 50 or even 60 years old.

Aniri is very friendly and sociable.  She isn’t one of those who go through the lobby without offering a friendly “good morning,” on the grounds that the receptionist and the guard aren’t on their same professional plane.  (There are those who customarily behave this way).

Aniri offers her smiles even to the little dog that is hiding from the director and waiting for the lunch hour.

For this reason, I have to believe her that the Voyeur doesn’t have a penchant just for her.  He apparently behaves the same with everyone: he’s a voyeur.

So how is it that there is a guard who’s always ogling people at the entrance to a workplace?

According to Aniri, some say that it wasn’t like that up until a few months ago.  People entered and left and the watchmen only demanded that they show their passes.  But ever since a computer monitor disappeared, they decided to take drastic measures.

They never called in the police.  No one knows why.

Now everyone is suspicious at the entrance and at the exit.   At least that’s how my friend feels; she wonders what right another civil servant has to check through her bag, look at and touch her feminine things.  Would she be spiriting a large, heavy object in her small handbag?

As happens with everything in our country, at first the security check functioned wonderfully, although the majority of the guards – as Aniri recognizes – didn’t enjoy their new duty.  But as the days passed, everything began to relax, the zeal to check everything died down.

But there’s always a bastion of dedication, and that’s the voyeur.

He’s the one who is perturbed with all the power of his sixty-some years, because Aniri’s bag is dark black and you can’t see what’s in it.  He puts his hand in to feel around, because maybe Aniri is trying to revive the Anthrax virus.  He asks why she is bringing a tape player into the office, what make it is, and notes everything down.

He proposes obligating the workers to dump all of their personal possessions out onto his table at the beginning and at the end of each work day.   And he comes running, even though he’s not at his work station, any time someone “escapes” because they don’t have time to wait for him to return.  He needs to know everything, see everything, even if there’s nothing there.  Aniri bets that it was he who was on guard duty the day of the robbery.

Up until now they haven’t carried out the Voyeur’s proposal, but my friend thinks that when they get very bored they won’t be able to resist the temptation to watch the Voyeur convert his table into a market stall.

She’s used to the fact that anything, absurd though it may be, becomes logically real.  In the end, the Voyeur is real; he makes real his need to not be alone, and the only way he can find is to spy on the little pieces of life that the rest carry in their bags and briefcases.

Aniri feels bad for the poor old fellow, but she needs to call on her full stock of patience each time that he’s there on duty.  He waits for her with his wide, triumphant smile since – even though she doesn’t want it that way – he has already part of a little piece of her life.


Caridad

Caridad: If I had the chance to choose what my next life would be like, I’d like to be water. If I had the chance to eliminate a worst aspect of the world I would erase fear. Of all the human feelings I most like I prefer friendship. I was born in the year of the first Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, the day that Gay Pride is celebrated around the world. I no longer live on the east side of Havana; I’m trying to make a go of it in Caracas, and I continue to defend my right to do what I want and not what society expects of me.

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