Lilianne Ruíz, Translator: Unstated
My name has been printed in a filthy little "Incident Book" at the
Muelle dock for the Regla ferry. While still at home I felt this strange
hyper-attentiveness to some details, which always ends in finding out it
was intuition, and meanwhile in my backpack I had some big scissors, the
kind used to cut hair, rather than the little ones used for fingernails
and thread which I couldn't find. I don't like pulling threads, or
biting them, and on this occasion I had kept a needle and some thread in
the backpack, as well as the scissors, in case I was out and had to fix
the strips of fabric on my shoes, which are tied around the ankles like
those of ballerinas.
I'm telling you this who series of little things to explain why my
backpack had the scissors in their red box and, along with them, a
needle and different colored thread. I wasn't thinking about boarding
the Regla ferry today until Alfredo invited us to stroll through Old
Havana and later, walking around Plaza Vieja and chasing the pigeons, we
thought we'd finish the tour at the Christ of Havana.
Before I'd stopped in front of the Castillo de la Fuerza and been
reminded of The Enchanted Masses*, I'd tried to think of Cuba. To
conceive of Cuba after my friend Mario had thrown back in my face my
lack of patriotism, because long ago I forgot the pitahaya flower, the
hummingbird, cane sugar. But despite having been close to once again
hearing the Cuban soul coming from some sulfurous crack of Hell, that
Enchantment of the Masses, facing off with the revolutionary education
system could not save me from the state absurdity a few steps ahead
I was thirsty so I showed up in the entrance of the Muelle ferry dock
with a can of lime soda. Before all the security paraphernalia and
police officers too young to be carrying guns, waiting for my backpack
to be searched, I received a message sent from my paleo brain wondering
in how many ways one can of soda can be a weapon.
I had no qualms about letting them look inside my backpack, in fact I'd
forgotten about the scissors, until a security guard showed me a sign
that said these types of instruments cannot cross the bay.
"That's fine," I said, "I'll leave them and pick them up on the way back."
The guard wanted me to show him my identity card, and this seemed a
solution to be able to leave the scissors and pick them up when we
returned. When he returned the ID to me and I offered him the scissors,
he told me,
"No… but I can't take responsibility for the scissors."
"Then why did you ask for my ID card and write my name in your 'incident
And guess what he told me:
"Because it is an incident."
"But I'm only at the terminal…!"
To insist on the injustice of having my name written in such a devious,
such a suspicious book, seemed so absurd to me that I couldn't think of
any remedy but getting used to the disagreeable feeling of having
abandoned my name. Having trusted so much in him, I hope that it returns
to me with the same delicacy and ingenuity with which I have left it in
some place of destiny, some membrane of time, some spacial membrane. In
the case of Cuba, one must be very careful.
Never before have I had the sensation of abandoning my poor name.
La Cantidad Hechizada – The Enchanted Masses — is a book by Jose Lezama
April 23 2012