Last June, when I least expected it, I saw God, which is something that doesn’t usually happen to unbelievers like me. But Cuba is the country of miracles. I was in Havana invited by ICAIC to attend the IV International Congress Culture and Development.
That day, after lunch, I presented my paper sitting somewhat nervous between two great figures, Danny Glover and the Brazilian Roberto Amaral. At the end, already calmer, overflowed with joy, because despite my fears having to share tribune with illustrious characters, the audience was very receptive to my words. Phew!
In the middle of the afternoon I received a note in my room, which read: “Commander Fidel Castro invites you this afternoon to meet him. At 7:30 pm we will pick you up with the other colleagues at the hotel door”
From now on I confess to the reader that I live oblivious to the fauna of those who hold public office in any administration, either in my country or abroad. But there are politicians and politicians, what the fuck.
They say that the Caribbean people are not very serious about punctuality, but I attest that at 7:30 p.m. the coach moved through the streets of the Cuban capital with a multinational shipment of writers, journalists, academics, political scientists and cultural faranduleros, who they rioted like children before the imminence of the encounter. The wait was brief in the anteroom of the palace behind the Revolution Square. And suddenly, while admiring the bronze busts of Lenin and Marti that are there, God appeared. Reality is usually more prosaic than fiction, as there was no lightning or thunder noise nor did it glow with the aura of light that I remember in the prints of my children’s books of Sacred History. Rather he adopted the appearance of a normal, bearded man, yes, and with two eyes, not one who sees all things from inside a triangle. But it was God, I swear. He was dressed in khaki and was stiff as those electricity poles that line the roads. And he smiled. We shook hands (I touched God!) And then we went to a great hall, which I recognized for having seen it in the Oliver Stone Commander movie.
The audience was long. I did not expect less from an occasion like that. God spoke, and spoke, and spoke. Us too, but less. He is an affable grandfather, laughing, cultured, of exquisite education, intelligent to the excess, loving of the human race and, above all, solidary. He told us his many battles, but not those of the old days of David and Goliath, but the recent ones, which continue to obey the same cause because, today as yesterday, they are fought between greedy and dispossessed possessors who decided to resist. I already knew them from my readings, although they always sound better on the lips of a main character. Eisenhower, Nixon, Che Guevara, Kennedy, Kruschev, Allende, Reagan, the Bush … came to life in the beautiful inflection of his words, pronounced with a lucidity that the poor humans already wanted. Later, at midnight, we had dinner. Nothing fancy, salmon fillet, salad and some other dish that I don’t remember. Ice cream dessert and glass of rum. And, to top it off, God gave each of the attendees a cigar. It was a majestic cigar, almost 20 cm, and in its vitola of black, yellow and gold tones, it read: “COHIBA, Habana, Cuba”. I never acquired the habit of smoking and the idea of turning it into ashes did not occur to me. Carlos Tena and Gennaro Carotenuto, along with me, also put him in a safe place. On the other hand, the Argentine Atilio Borón, who was one step away, lit it without hesitation, but it is that God gives him cigars regularly and it is already known that the relics, when there are many and there is trust, lose value.
We took a group photo and I managed to be behind God on his left, because the other flank gives me hives. Afterwards, he fired us not before inviting us for an upcoming occasion, as fresh as if he had just got up after a restful night. We saw him disappear at the bottom of the hall with an agile salsa step. It would be said that neither the years nor osteoarthritis leave a mark, they must be the things of divinity. Nor then did I perceive lightning or thunder or aura of light around him (damn Hollywood cinema, which always deceives us with its special effects). It was three o’clock.
Two days later I returned to Europe. Inside my handbag, rolled up in some pages of Granma, I kept the cigar of God as a trophy. The flight is long and I arrived exhausted, eager to get into bed. But first, in the little garden, I couldn’t resist the temptation to unwind the treasure to proudly show it to my neighbor. I slept soundly while it rained outside without stopping. After breakfast, I started to take out the luggage in order to put them in their place. The habano of God was not among the newspaper sheets. I felt panic, because what had happened came to my mind like a flash. Indeed, it was on the grass, soaked in water and much less airy than when I received it.
Five months have passed and, thanks to my care, the cigar of God only partially recovered his galanura. But what’s more. Derek Walcott once said that when we break a vessel the love that gathers the fragments is stronger than the love that took its previous symmetry for granted. I will keep it that way for the rest of my life and I will only smoke it when I finally meet God in the sky of Don Karl.