HAVANA TIMES – My nephew, Canek Sanchez Guevara, son of Hildita, my oldest cousin and one of the best in the Guevara family, no doubt, has passed away.
I am speechless.
Both Hildita and Canek, which means “Black Serpent” in the language of the ancient Mexicans, lived life to the fullest. They had the balls to do what they thought was right, they were free, courageous, intelligent and cultured. They were also damaged by this world – nicked at their flanks, but never sunk.
I hadn’t seen Canek since he was a child, since the day my father arrived in Havana with Guillain Barre syndrome, almost an invalid, and my grandfather Ernesto was admitted to a clinic following a stroke.
That day, we were nursing a bottle of Caney-brand rum that Evelio and I had taken to Hildita’s apartment. Canek and Camile had gone to bed when they called Hildita’s house with the news. I rushed to Havana’s Almeijeiras hospital and spent the night with my father. My drunkenness wore off the instant I saw the old man, the tough old guy in need of help. I didn’t know whether he would make it. My grandfather also had one foot in the grave. The Grim Reaper made its rounds that night, gentle and confident.
I was forced to leave Cuba a short time later. When I was allowed to visit the country again five years later, Hildita called my mother’s several times and told me to go see her, that she wasn’t doing very well. I didn’t understand how serious the situation was and left the visit for my last days in the country. In the end, after many days of drinking and visits to my son Alejandro, I left without seeing her.
Two months later, they called me in Argentina to tell me my eldest cousin, the sweet and rebellious Hilda Guevara Gadea, daughter of my uncle Ernesto (who had also died young) had died of cancer, while many sons of bitches there were still alive and well
Following an extremely complicated operation, Canek was left behind, or perhaps let go. I believe he had more of a chance to steer the ship of his irreverence towards a safe harbor than did Hildita, even while looking for the same peace that his mother and grandfather had sought.
He was a great writer: sincere, courageous and intelligent.
Something of a pariah for all of Fidel’s cronies and their company, he was shunned in the most disgusting way for being a rebellious punk and for fearlessly going after that inner truth that can lead you to error and originality. True to his convictions, he would unflinchingly condemn the less-than-revolutionary ways of those who had abandoned his grandfather in Bolivia.
I hadn’t seen him since he was a child, but I had read his writings throughout the years and we would keep in touch through social networks, sharing ways of thinking, viewpoints, tastes and a common family history. He had become a man driven by a constant search and great intellectual honesty.
It would seem there is a family lineage, starting with Ernesto and passing through Hildita, that takes them away as they chase after ghosts and dreams that are beyond their reach.
Goodbye, Canek, give my regards to Hildita, and tell her I love her very much.
I’ll see you over there, amid ghosts and dreams, dear nephew.