Going Back Where?

Relationship between the lake, island and cloud (Tomas Sanchez): Page 12

By Eloy Viera Cañive (El Toque)

HAVANA TIMES – My father passed away in Cuba on the night of July 11th 2023. As the National News on Cuban TV would say: from a “long and difficult illness.” The same news show that has defamed his son and so many other Cubans. The same news where the Cuban Government talks about a country that doesn’t exist.

When I left Cuba, I knew that there wouldn’t be a reencounter for us on this piece of land we both called “Homeland”. 

We’ll see each other again, but in eternity. This eternity that my father so fervently believed in and which allowed him to go peacefully, despite his condition; this same eternity that I know he’s reading me from now. 

I’m only writing for him. Especially because we didn’t even get the chance to say goodbye via a screen, like we did during COVID-19.

I write for him on El Toque – as if it were my Facebook wall – because even though my work on this platform was the main reason for our separation, he never asked me to give up what I do. 

I apologize to my readers for taking up a collective space for something so personal, but I feel like my father will only read me here because he used to do it every day, without ever telling me. 

I’m writing to him here and now because I know, for the first time in a long time, that he will read me with the same pleasure as always, but without the pain and anguish that accompanied him in his last days on Earth.

Ever since I emigrated, in January 2020, I’ve invented my own country. A country where I dreamed I’d be able to be with my father when he passed, be by his side and kiss him on the forehead, like he used to when I was a child and like he also did with my son. A country where I hoped to look after my mother. A country that I could always come back to, without worrying about anything, before my father closed his eyes.

In the early morning of July 12th, I received the call I had been training for, but I wasn’t ready. That’s when I realized that the country I had built was fading. My father was my country. He was the main incentive for me to go back to this land that taught me to love like a patrimony for everyone and not just a few. 

Today, my father is no longer among us. I now join the long list of thousands of Cubans who have been woken up early in the morning, in any corner of the world, to be told that their country or a part of it has disappeared. Forming part of this list doesn’t make me feel a bit better, but it does put me in a better position to understand the drama of a country that has existed, for a long time, with the idea of an imaginary country. 

There isn’t any more time for my father and I; but there is still time for the Cuba that I should have gone back to in order to be with him when he passed. We need to make time for the real Cuba and not the one imaginary one. 

Freedom isn’t an abstract value. Freedom can be measured with things as simple as the ability to be with our parents when they die. Being with them when they die not in a country that we invented, but in the COUNTRY where we were all born and where many of us would like to die. 

My father has gone, but my desire for freedom hasn’t left with him. Reading me now, as I know he is, he’d say: “now more than ever.”

Bon voyage, we’ll see each other on the other side. I love you and I’ll toast to a Free Cuba for us both.

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  • Amen

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