Monday, June 19, 2006

The Lost City, a Continuation - Chapter 4

Index of Chapters

Chapter 4

“Mamá, why didn’t you tell me?” Fico asked.

“What good would it have done?” his mother answered. “There was nothing you could do about it. Besides, after you fell in love with Susan it was pointless anyway. I knew it would hurt you. I knew it might destroy you.”

Doña Cecilia had just recounted what became of Aurora Fellove after Fico left Cuba. When Fico had last seen her, Aurora was a very visible woman in the Cuban Revolution. She went on to work at the Ministry of Education in literacy campaigns. For two years she traveled Cuba’s interior supervising teams of educators that were trying to deliver the promises of the Revolution. Then one day she witnessed something that changed her forever. She was in a classroom with several guajiros, simple farmers, when two Cuban intelligence officers burst into the room. One of the guajiros stood up and tried to flee but the officers were on top of him in an instant. In a flurry of punches and curses they had him subdued. They took him out of the classroom without a word of explanation. Aurora found out that the man was accused of aiding counterrevolutionary forces that were hiding in the Escambray mountain range. Within 48 hours the man had been tried, convicted and executed.

Aurora knew that many Cubans had been executed by the Revolution but she thought that had pretty much ended after the criminals of the Batista regime had been rounded up or fled the country. There were rumors that a lot of innocent people had been caught up in the dragnet. She hadn’t wanted to believe them. Now her Revolutionary fervor had begun to waiver. There had still been no free elections in Cuba and Fidel had aligned the country with the Soviet Union. The world had reached the brink of nuclear war as a result. Many of the revolutionaries that had fought alongside her dead husband were now themselves in prison. They had a different vision for Revolutionary Cuba, but only Fidel’s own vision mattered to him. Anyone who didn’t share that vision was deemed counterrevolutionary.

Aurora sought out the two men that had arrested her Guajiro pupil. She confronted one of the men at the G2 office in the town. He told her impolitely that if she knew what was good for her that she’d forget about the man. He was an enemy of the Revolution and thus he needed to be eliminated. She asked on whose orders the man had been condemned to death. “Who do you think?” said the G2 man stroking an imaginary beard. “We have our standing orders on how to deal with counterrevolutionary scum. Now run along lady.”

From that moment on Aurora committed herself to trying to change the nature of the Revolution. She returned to Havana and began meeting with higher-ups in the Revolutionary bureaucracy telling them what she had seen and what she had heard. Most were callous and uncaring, but some had fear in their eyes. They would point to the ceiling or wall as they admonished her, signaling that they were probably being listened to. Aurora didn’t care. She went from one high ranking official to the next in an almost frantic attempt to get a sympathetic audience.

Then one day in 1964 they came for her. She disappeared. Doña Cecilia who had stayed in relatively close contact with her son’s widow heard nothing from Aurora for more than a year. Then shortly before Doña Cecilia left the country Aurora reappeared.

It was a rainy night in 1965 when the knock came on the door of the Fellove home in Havana. Aurora was at the door, drenched and shivering. Doña Cecilia heated up some coffee and got Aurora out of her soaked clothing. Aurora had a far away look in her eyes. Something had happened to her but she was reluctant to talk about it. As best Doña Cecila could piece it together, Aurora who had once been the darling of the Cuban propaganda machine and been named “Widow of the Revolution of the Year” had fallen out of favor and been detained. Now she had no home, no money and nowhere to go. She was an undesirable and had been ostracized. Doña Cecilia explained to Fico how she gave Aurora several pieces of jewelry right before she left Cuba for good. They weren’t going to allow her to take the jewelry with her and she knew Aurora would be able sell it and get some money to live on, at least for a while. That had been 15 years ago.

1 comment:

ziva said...

Henry, this is so good. I love how you're portraying the long arm of the revolution. Aurora re-appearing in Fico's life so many years later is a metaphor for the reality of exile in comparison to immigration. In exile the homeland and the life you left is not a before, it's an unfinished now that never leaves you; so her appearance even after so many years immediately places Fico back in that emotional reality. I don't know if that says clearly what I mean. I Can't wait for the next chapter!