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Yoani Sanchez

Yoani Sanchez

Posted May 6, 2009 | 05:04 AM (EST)

When I Tell of Life Under Castro, Hopefully My Grandchildren Will Think I've Lost My Mind


I go wandering with my smallest grandson through the streets of a Havana that is both different and at the same time familiar. I don't have a blog and my seventy years show in every wrinkle of my face and in my long white braid. Even though this could be a dark futuristic fantasy, I prefer to believe that we are walking through a city reborn and prosperous. We come to the park to take the sun and I try--like all old people--to tell him about my times, those years when I was thin and displayed the energy he now exhibits.

Spanish continues to be the mother tongue of my offspring but the boy looks at me as if he doesn't understand anything I say. He casts a doubtful grimace my way when I refer to the "Special Period," "the ration book" and "rationed products" or "ideological loyalty." His problems are so different, how could he understand those I once had? He displays without embarrassment some historical confusion and calls a dead leader by the name of a salsa singer. He's incapable of differentiating between the speech decreeing the socialist character of the Revolution and that announcing the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Out of respect he doesn't tell me to be quiet, but I can see in his eyes that all my chatter bores him. "Grandma is stuck in the past," he'll say when I leave, but in front of me he pretends to listen to antiquated anecdotes about a remote Cuba. This boy doesn't know that the premonition of his existence allowed me to maintain my sanity forty years ago. Anticipating him--with his expression of disbelief sitting on a park bench in the Havana of the future--kept me from taking the way of the sea, of pretending, of silence. I've made it here thanks to him and instead of telling him that, I confuse him with my anecdotes about what happened, about things that will never happen again.

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Yoani's blog, Generation Y, can be read here in English Translation