Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Suitcase is Packed / Yoani Sánchez

My Suitcase is Packed / Yoani Sánchez
Translator: Unstated, Yoani Sánchez

Like all the airports in the world, ours is impersonal, stressful, glass
and aluminum on all sides. Once in a while the door to customs opens and
someone comes out with their luggage wrapped in cellophane. The waiting
family members scream, tears running down their faces, the newcomer is
flushed with emotion. Meanwhile, on the first floor are the departures,
the last hugs between people who may never see each other again. There
are booths with glaring officials who check the documents. Passport,
visa, ticket… permission to leave. I always wonder what happens to those
who pass by this window without a "white card," without this demeaning
authorization that we Cubans must have to leave our own country. But
there are few testimonials, the denials happen far from the runway where
the planes take off.

The rumor that tomorrow, Friday morning, Raul Castro could announce an
easing of the restrictions to enter and leave won't let me sleep. In
four years, my passport has filled with visas to arrive in other
countries but lacks a single permit to leave this insularity. Eighteen
denials of permission to travel is too much; more like a personal
vendetta than the exercise of some bureaucratic regulation. I've had my
suitcase packed for a long time. The clothing it contains is yellowing
with time, the gifts for friends have expired or gone out of style, the
papers I would read about current events are outdated. But the suitcase
keeps looking at me from the corner of the bedroom. "When will we
travel?" I imagine its worn-out wheels asking me. And I can only answer
that perhaps this Friday in a parliament — without real power — some
decree will return to me a right I should have always enjoyed.

In the event that the anticipated "immigration reform" is announced, I
will test its limits from the airport, facing that checkpoint so many
fear. My suitcase and I are ready. Willing to see if the guard will
press the button that opens the door to the departure lounge, or if he
calls security to take me away.

22 December 2011

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