Luis Miguel del Bahia
HAVANA TIMES, Oct. 27 — The truth is that my mother deserves special recognition for her being so persistent. From when I started kindergarten through the 9th grade, every morning she was pushing me to attend school.
You have to understand that in my first years of elementary school I was difficult, I couldn’t quit crying all day at school. But of course this gradually stopped.
In junior high school, the 7th and 8th grades weren’t as bad as the 9th. It turned out that in this latter year, the philosopher of the republic — Fidel — decided to institute the General Integral Teachers program and establish exaggerated hours of between 7:45 a.m. to 4:35 p.m. without us leaving school, though we were given a snack to eat.
My skipping classes was legendary, though miraculously I passed that last year. From then until now, a lot of water has passed under the bridge. It has already been seven years that I’ve had nothing to do with the “academy,” yet the ghost of that last year still haunts me.
Since when I finished up until now, from time to time I’ve had dreams — now less than before — that I’m still back in the 9th grade. In some of these I know that grade is over, but the teachers tell me that I have to return and do it over.
In others I don’t remember having completed that grade, however I make progress and I see myself in the dream like I am today, though still in the final year of junior high.
The last time I had this dream — yesterday — I remember going up to two of my classmates (also grown) and asking them: “What are we still doing here in the 9th at this age?” They agreed with me that we were now too old to be there, but they weren’t able to explain the situation either.
In these dreams I’m completely desperate, so I say to myself: “I have to end this, if I’ve gone this far, I have to make it to the end.” Then I wake up and my soul returns to my body when I understand reality has nothing to do with that story.
This definitely must be trauma; because how is it possible that after seven years I continue to have the same dream?
I’m sure there are kids who aren’t affected by school so much, even in these philo-fascistic times. But I remember that most of the other students back in those days also hated that period.
Of course there were also the terrible snacks, which consisted of a piece of bread with… well, with hamburger or croquette (the third type of meat I don’t remember) and a glass of soy yogurt.
But there was a problem with this. Since the meal truck was almost always dirty, occasionally the kids would find roaches or other vermin in the loaves. Likewise, sometimes the yogurt would be delivered spoiled. I don’t know how those things are these days.
I do know that now students are allowed to bring an additional snack. Back then this wasn’t permitted since it was seen as a violation of equality (of course the sons and daughters of the wealthy were exceptions).
Another thing was that alleged democratic aim of establishing equality. At the end of the 8th grade they introduced all those measures, but the principal told us that these would only remain if the students accepted them.
The problem was that they gave us a pig in a poke, because when we walked into our 9th grade homerooms those measures — as if by magic — had been institutionalized, I suppose approved unanimously. Something that never happened).
Right now no enlightened minister of Education or psychologist can say in absolute terms that school does no harm; I for one came out traumatized. And I imagine that those working in the Minors Program (specialized care for youth who have problems), instead of scaring kids by telling them that they’ll go to jail, they should pay more attention to these matters.
As for me, I guess I’ll have to deal with my being in the 9th grade for a good while longer, though I can’t find any explanation for it.