Published in English and French in the book by: Achy Obejas (Ed.), Havana Noir
[Brooklyn,NY: Akashic Books, 2007, pp. 179-189].(La Havane Noir. Paris> Asphalte, 2007. pp. 153-163)
What am I going to do? What is it that I’m I going to do? That’s what I keep asking myself over and over as they lead me through the airport.
“We have a problem, sir,” the secretary at the Law School had said. “You can’t take the state’s graduating exam because we found you have penal antecedents, a police record. It’s been more than 20 years, so you can ask that they be erased and then you can take the state exam,” he added in a conciliatory tone.
Of course I knew this; that police record had made a pariah out of me, without the right to study the career of my choice, without the right to seek a better job, or to have any kind of social acceptance. For more than 20 years I’d been walking around, socially and politically castrated, and I’d come to think that the University of Havana would never find out about my past if I just denied it.
“There was a mistake and it’s been rectified,” the legal adviser to the Ministry of Justice said this time, months later. “When you were tried and sentenced, you were a minor and so you should have never had a police record.”
You’re telling me this now, after decades of ostracism, you fucking legal adviser to the Ministry?
But it’s never too late to start again. So I graduated from Law School and decided not to practice, since the profession doesn’t actually allow the defense of those accused of ideological crimes such as thinking aloud, or to accuse crooks with good political connections. I can’t even defend myself. Under what law, and with what proceedings? I think back and I regret that I thought so dismissive of that court-appointed lawyer who didn’t bother to mount a defense for me back when I was 17 years old. Where could he be now? Has he been imprisoned for thinking without hypocrisy, has he deported himself, or has he allowed himself to be debased?
After two or three hours of pedaling my bicycle, sweating my guts out, I can’t find my way home: Night has come too soon, and the stars are on vacation as it rains non-stop on this new moon. For those without direction or hope, there are no sadder nights than those that are moonless. And it won’t matter how much I plead, the moon will not so much as peek.