Conversations on the different days of the week are a common topic among Cubans; some don’t like Mondays, some say Friday is their favorite day, others that Sundays are boring. Whenever it comes up, I say that my favorite day is Saturday. In my mind and to my senses, Saturday represents the smells and sounds of what I feel to be our Cuban identity.
I was born in the town of Guanabacoa. From the early hours on Saturdays one would hear the sound of water thrown to clean the sidewalks, household chores, announcements, street sellers, the penetrating noise of knifes being sharpened, the car and bus horns and the music of the gramophones.
If I were to travel abroad, I’m sure I would miss these Saturdays, as I have found no similar sensation in any other country. I always thought there would be no Saturday in Cuba without these characteristics.
I was wrong. This Saturday, November 26, silence took over our streets, our neighborhoods, our homes. Neither in the markets nor on the buses were loud voices heard.
This silence overcame the usual Cuban hustle and bustle, which no regulations or environmental laws have managed to control. Only this time, the silence was that of respect, meditation, evocation, because the day before Fidel had left us, and this quiet was the only way we found to honor him.
José Martí had already noted, “It has had to be done in silence,” while a volcano of patriotism forged the Necessary War.
In silence we remain, with the commitment that we will continue the battles that he led and with which he guided us from victory to victory, on laying to rest his ashes in the land of the Mambises.
This Cuban silence is not only because we resist accepting his departure or because we refuse to talk about him in the past tense, but because the spirit of the Homeland, turned to ashes, has embarked on the path to eternity.