My Grandfather, My Mask, My Love

By Repatriado*

Photo: Elio Delgado Valdes

HAVANA TIMES — I love my grandfather, he went up into the Sierra Maestra Mountains because he wanted to change things and when he arrived unarmed, the rebels sent him to the plains to arm himself. Well trained on how to use these arms, he came down from the Sierra and killed a soldier or rural guard, I’m not sure, and he went back up.

When I was a child, my grandfather was a great man to me, he never passed 4th grade in his little town in the east, but he managed to become the Captain of the Rebel Army as a result of his violence and courage. Later, he headed a huge technical company as a replacement for his US predecessors; he managed millions as the assistant director within a large Ministry.

He told me one day that even though I was the person he loved the most in this world, he was going to shoot me in the head when he found that book with Pope John Paul II’s thoughts which I had underlined, or when he called me a traitor and looked at me with hate the time I questioned the need for Mandatory Military Service in a conversation with a foreigner who had married my aunt.

Even so, I love my grandfather.

My grandfather spent the Special Period crisis in the ‘90s in a special way. He had already retired and had been forgotten. Not that it still wasn’t hard for him but it was less hard thanks to his brother, another heroic guerrillera fighter who remained within the FAR’s (Revolutionary Armed Forces) ranks and led a large department with huge resources.

But, as things got even worse, he became more and more orthodox. He used to listen to Fidel as if he were the resurrected Christ. He led his Party’s members where he lived, he was the soul and driving force of the CDRs (Neighborhood Defense Committees) in his area, and he used to snitch on everyone, even his own son for being an embezzler.

The nearby residents were afraid of him as if he were the pharoah of the neighborhood, the giver of life or death. A bad report from him at the twice monthly meetings the core group held could cause a lot of problems at the time for people to seek permits or paperwork of any kind

I love my grandfather who has never read the classics of Marxism, let alone any bourgeois philosophy work, nor has he ever read fiction, but he relishes in devouring all “historic” literature from Fidel’s era and he went on to cross out the vignette of the Virgin on his cap in photos from his time in the Sierra, to dedicate himself to a polytheistic religion where Love is Fidel but Ra, the most loved, is Che.

My love for him is still unfaltering when he also unwavingly justifies any of the government’s international impudence, or when he calls Venezuelans uneducated or ungrateful because they are protesting against Maduro.

He doesn’t find any contradictions within the Revolution, not before when we were a colony of the Soviet Union, nor afterward when the disaster of the ‘90s took place, nor now when communism has taken off its mask, and he would explain this very simply if he could. He isn’t a communist, he’s a fidelista and Fidel knows what’s best for us.

Because I love him, and not because I’m afraid he’ll shoot me in the head although I don’t doubt he would, he doesn’t know what I really think. I am the artful and perfect hypocrite. I do a fanciful juggling act to show him just how well we are moving forward and the light that can be seen ahead in 2030.

The truth is that it is becoming easier for me to put on this act as his mind isn’t what it used to be. I’m used to putting on an act in front of him, just about this though, and I’ve done this ever since my critical side of Cuban reality was stirred.

Being the person he loves the most, he indoctrinated me since I was a child and he used to see his natural replacement in me and so when I was 19 he promoted me to CDR organizer in the area. The long meetings of old geezers talking about the same thing over and over again were an unimaginable torture, but they were speaking honestly, not like the muncipal president’s cadre in the CDR, a young, short, nervous and talkative young man who I used to see as the personification of the fanatical debunked Hassan Perez.

I never understood my grandfather, his mental mechanisms, the way he could adjust his ideas so as not to see the great contradictions, lies, fabrications, disappointments, pains and misery that this Revolution had left as its legacy.

I will never forgive anyone who illegally takes a life and justifies it as a duty or an ideology or Faith, but I love my grandfather deeply and that’s why when Elio writes here on Havana Times, I don’t read it anymore, as I won’t be able to understand him either.

In some way, I feel sorry for him that he continues to be so aware and has to deal with our everyday reality, plus, maybe he also has a grandson who loves him and still finds a tender man, full of love, dedicated to his family and sacrificing everything without any personal interest other than leaving a better Cuba behind for his grandchildren.
*I’ve used a pseudonym because I’m afraid that my humble internet account might be taken away from me or that I might be harassed financially. This might be a fear without grounds, but I don’t know for certain and as I’m not brave, I avoid the risk because what I most fear is losing the mask that I put on in front of my beloved and “revolutionary” grandfather.

2 thoughts on “My Grandfather, My Mask, My Love

  • Fidel was a false prophet. He betrayed his own revolution as he got drunk on power. Even he recognized that the Cuban model he put in place did not work but out of pride left it to Raul to make essential changes. His worse economic adviser was Che, a ruthless man with misguided notions on functions of an economy. Functional economies do not operate at extremes of socialism or capitalism. Unfortunately, moderation is not as thrilling to activist looking to change the world order.

  • Regardless of ideoligies, a very touching, sincere, and touching love story. God bless you and your grandfather.

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