The gift of invisibility


For years I boasted that I could become “invisible,” because at any moment I chose I could immediately go undetected and escape from complicated situations. Wrapped in this “Harry Potter” cloak, I eluded membership in the Union of Communists Youth, because — an incredible thing considering Cuba’s ideological extremism of the 1980s — no one asked me if I’d like to join.

I was also invisible for any position of responsibility that might be left vacant near me, and that required an unblemished applicant. I thus avoided, without hardly anyone noticing (until today), the almost obligatory enrollment in the FMC [Federation of Cuban Women] — by playing the old trick of having an identity card that matches one address but living in another; I also got around membership in a union, and I even managed to not let myself be stopped by “The University is for revolutionaries,” when I had the luck of studying in the School of Letters during a period of bureaucratic relaxation brought about by the severe conditions of the Special Period.*

However, the hiding trick no longer works. So I have “pointed myself out” in an act of extreme exhibitionism: writing this blog. My friend offered me the Golden Rule when he told me about a conversation he had with “the boys of the apparatus.”* He said: “I sign my own name to everything that I think and write, but you aren’t allowed to publish any of the things that you do or say, much less sign them.”

So, inspired by my friend’s advice, I got a little carried away and put my picture up on this blog. Although I appreciate the advice of all of those who have written, asking me to use a pseudonym and to take my face down from the Internet, I should tell you that this is part of an “anti-invisibility” personal therapy.

Translator’s notes:

Special Period = The 1990s in Cuba, a very difficult time after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the loss of its support.

“Boys of the apparatus” = State security services, called variously “security,” “the Apparatus,” “the machinery,” “Armageddon,” “the chipper,” “the boys” or simply, “Them.” See Blog entry for 24 December 2007.

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