When I watch TV…

This week we have anti-television therapy in our house. We started gradually and are now at the stage of turning on the “smug little fatty” but not turning up the volume. What this accomplishes is extremely interesting. Before our eyes pass images, so predictable that one’s own imagination adds the voice and sound. If there is a seeded field, I hear inside me a well known commentator announcing overachievement in the production of potatoes. If, in its place, we see images of people dressed in white coats, then my mind immediately hears the speech about Cuban doctors who offer their services in Bolivia or Venezuela.

What never happens is that when watching one of those interviews on mute, I hear within me anything resembling the realistic conversations I hear daily on the street. Our small screen shows us “what should have been” or, even worse, “what we must think that we are.” So the commentator in all of us never says, “prices are sky high,” or “in my polyclinic we only have 17 doctors because all the rest have gone on a mission,” or “if you don’t steal from your work place you can’t live,” or “where are the damned potatoes that don’t come?”

The TV seems so small in my life that I have come to think that it is my existence that is not real; that the long faces I see on the street are actors who deserve an Oscar (or a Coral*); that the hundreds of problems I navigate to feed myself, to get transportation, and simply to exist, are only lines in a dramatic script and that the truth, so adamant are they about it, must be what they tell me in Granma, the National News on television, and The Round Table.

Translator’s notes:

A Coral award is a Latin American Oscar.

Granma is Cuba’s daily morning paper. It is named after the yacht that brought the revolutionaries to Cuba in 1956, which was bought in Mexico from an American who had named it for his grandmother.

The Round Table (La Mesa Redonda) is a news show on Cuban television.

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