I get up with a start. It was just a nightmare or maybe a very distant dream. Its still early. I look at the streets of my neighborhood. Barely a small voice shouts in the distance like a collective alarm clock – the paaaaan suaaave. A ray of sunlight caresses the pavement.
People crowd the sidewalks from one second to the next. A festival of colors! Children, youth, adults in uniforms. Old men who step by step go to the winery, the pharmacy.
Through windows or balconies I observe the housewives. Souls that wander in the inertia of routine, invisible, but necessary. I identify with them … Well, what my eyes notice !!! I pinch myself. I think it is not real. Someone see me …
Days pass and that scene does not repeat itself. I am thoughtful and nostalgic about the recent visit of two young journalists with the aim of taking pictures of me.
Without wanting to sound presumptuous, I remember the old days when I was competing with Victoria de Girón and Palmar de Junco from a distance, and at times both had to give in to my undeniable and novel appeal. If only it were about my monumental appearance and the verbal treats towards every new product… But no, many glimpses of the past are enough excuse for the weeping that exudes my walls in the form of weeds.
Inside me, the volleyball player rejoiced as he finished off his opponent on the other side of the net, the basketball player mixed tears with sweat when he missed a vital basket for his team and the fifteen-year-old boxer ran to the stands to hug his parents, with gloves still on after the verdict was delivered.
The karate fighter performed her kata so well that she dissuaded her father that «martial arts are a male thing,» the gymnast twisted an ankle in an attempt to exceed her own expectations, and the fencer drew a lunge with his florin that would have inspired to Dumas to incorporate a new musketeer into his novels.
The press represented my most assiduous human company, whether to cover a children’s sporting event or among inmates. The masses came to me and took me as the stage to select the Queen of the Carnival. On one occasion I was about to succumb under the weight of many people from Matanzas, while the melodies and voices of Mocedades adorned my surroundings.
In 2009 my main runway deck collapsed. Fortunately, nothing was celebrated that day, not a school graduation, not a physical education class. Although the event marks my destiny since then, I am grateful that I was not crowded at that time.
The impact of the debris doesn’t hurt as much, every time I think about the care they give me. For years I have waited for a minimum institutional action that allows me to recover, to obtain back the dignity with which I stood up and inspired respect.
In an information from Workers, I think I have heard, I had been included in the restoration plans for the 325th anniversary of the city of Matanzas. Ha! The truth is that I don’t remember if any commission came to evaluate me. It must have been during the few, intermittent hours of sleep that the noises of Pueblo Nuevo allow me.
Moss grows everywhere. Dust and weeds blur my gaze. Horses graze on bucolic ground where slippers used to slip after the ball. The nights in me are not safe. I serve as a lair for all kinds of ruffians and perverts, and it makes me angry that I can’t keep them in my whining darkness. They hide less and less and do their bad deeds in the middle of the street by the light of the streetlights.
Today, when my only joys reside in the children who run through the undergrowth of my bosom, an ideal hiding place for the tigers and lions of the imagination, I demand to the authorities concerned in my city that the thunderous silence that surrounds the Athenaeum be heard, and May I be freed from loneliness and uncertainty.
• Written in collaboration with José Alejandro Gómez Morales