Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The movie in my mind

Many an exile can tell you that they did not choose to leave Cuba. Many an exile will tell you that they did not leave, but were forced off. All will agree that they were witnesses to needless hate, brutality, and the crumbling of a society that was their home. All will testify to fact that in each one of them there is seared with a passionate fire the engraven image of the paradise lost: a detailed map of our Atlantis before it sank into fidel's hell. This image is constantly and habitually polished like a crystal mental heirloom or a bronzed memorial of a loved one. This image is the quest of identity seeking sanity, of reconciling where one came from and where one is now.

I was never born in Cuba, though I was born from a Cuban. I, like so many other Cuban-Americans, grew up hearing the stories of our padres y abuelos. We grew up carving in ourselves the image of our lost home. We traveled through the memories de nuestros padres and saw Cuba, as it was when they were there and as it became through the revolution. Image after image, scene after scene, the obsession of parents to hold on becomes our obsession to not let go. And so we build their memories into ours: streets, people, buildings, faith, peace, fear, death, violence, and finally oppression.

Many of us Cuban-Americans have never been to Cuba. Yet, like nuestros padres y abuelos, we too have engraven images of Cuba within us: religious icons that stand between here and the reality they represent. They are movies that flicker in our minds: recreations of these stories staring whatever family member telling it and taking place in whatever picture is available. Many of us can spot a picture of Cuba from a mile away, and can tell what part of Cuba it's from. Almost all of us can identify which landmark building is which, or name you the different national symbols of Cuba that many Cubans on the island could even care less about. All of us want freedom on this island, our island, if not for the sake of liberty itself, then for the sake of parents who suffered so greatly under fidel, and who so greatly want to return. Cuba is an uncompleted task for many of us. It is something we find ourselves replaying in our heads, which becomes a driving force against those who sympathize with castro.

It kills us when ignorant teenyboppers wear Che shirts unaware of the truth. It kills us that so many, who live so well, support this mad man who has made life a living hell. It kills us when so many people are murdered, or detained for exercising their God given right to free speech. And it kills us when family members die never being able to see their beloved island rescued and redeemed.

I know the movie in my mind. I know it well as it is part of who I am, and hopefully, of whom I'll be. The movie, the deep footprints that were laid in my soul by my family, living and dead, are carried with me everywhere: awaiting the day when it will cease playing -awaiting the day where setting my own feet in a free Cuba, come what may, will be a reality.


Robert said...

Great post Songuacassal. You captured the feelings of most of us who've never stepped foot on Cuban soil, yet feel every bit as Cuban as our parents and grandparents.

Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

"And so we build their memories into ours..."

The hair on the back of my neck stood up when I read that. You really expressed my feelings. Something inside me has definetly clicked in this process of blogging, writing, researching, studying. How can you miss a land you've never seen? It's an interesting question I ask myself every day.