Chapter One, page 12
questions that were impossible to answer but perhaps dangerous to ignore.
To discard the questions could send the signal that I was desperately trying to avoid: that as the daughter of avowed gusanos, I was beyond redemption. There was nothing I could do for the revolution, and therefore there was nothing the revolution could do for me.
No one has the right to invade our privacy like this, my father said. I knew not to go further.
He rolled up the papers and put them inside one of the glasses from an orange-and-green set my mother kept in the cupboard. I skipped school that day, complaining of stomach pains. The next day my teachers asked me if we had filled out the questionnaire. I said my father was working on it. They asked again the next day, and the next. Until one day they stopped asking. The papers remained inside the cupboard for as long as we lived in Cuba.
The school year ended, as did all my years in grade school, with a student show. Teachers would pick their favorite students and coach them to display their talents on graduation day, when awards were issued along with the diplomas.
I’d had such a chaotic year that I knew I wouldn’t receive any special awards or be picked to perform in any of the shows. My class had organized a fashion show representing the countries of the world. There were girls dressed in flowing white Panamanian dresses, elaborate Spanish dancers’ costumes, and even Japanese kimonos. Others wore short, skin-colored smocks and feathers in their hair; they were American Indians. A black girl wrapped her lithe body with a colorful curtain from her living room to represent Africa. Another wore baggy pants and a veil around her face; she was the Cuban version of an Arabic country.
I stood on the sidelines pretending to enjoy the preparations for the show as much as if I were participating in it. But I couldn’t, because for the first time I had not been chosen. I was no longer good enough to play a Vietnamese farmer, harvesting rice with a stick while pretending to dodge American bombs, or even Angela Davis, a role I had played before, clad in a black plastic miniskirt, my hands bound by paper chains while the people of the world swirled around me and clamored for my freedom. I had danced and sung and recited revolutionary