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Can I Wake Up?

By Yoani Sanchez:

Can I Wake Up?

Sometimes when I’m restless I dream that I move, that I change houses over and over without being able to enjoy any of them. In this recurring nightmare, my life is dismantled and my childhood photos are lost in some moving van. But this only happens to me on nights of midlevel anxiety. This week, for example, has been different. The wee hours find me walking on an endless dark road. I put my head on the pillow and return to this trail surrounded by high grass, with the sound of cicadas boring holes in my ears. I’m not alone, at my side are familiar faces: my friends of laughter and dungeons, of hugs and terrors. We talk and the phrases are cut in half because they disappear into the weeds, they go… they take them. Every night I no more close my eyes than the bushes return to swallow my loved ones.

I get up in the morning and tell myself, “It’s all over, it was just a dream.” But after a while the phone rings and someone tells me that Antonio Rodiles remains in custody, accused of resisting an arrest as arbitrary as it was unjust. I go to the bathroom, my eyelids still half open and realize that just a few hours ago Angel Santiesteban had been released after they forced him into a police car with blows. The morning coffee percolates on the stove and I check my cellphone, full of denunciations of the abuse of the Ladies in White in several areas of the country. The light still has the red hue of dawn and I already feel that the long road retraced in my dreams extends into reality.

It’s not the weeds, but the intolerance; not the song of the cicadas but the shouts of the authoritarians; not the night but the lack of freedom. Because when noon comes I’ve already found I can’t escape them, pinching my forearms or even putting my head under cold water doesn’t work. It’s a fact that those “abducted” friends are a concrete reality, tangible, not a nocturnal delirium. The afternoon advances and I understand that my nightmare is all around me and I end up returning to the trail surrounded by high grass. But this time there is only me, talking to myself so the darkness won’t scare me to death. Someone – I don’t see who – grabs me and shoves me into the weeds. It’s three hours before the alarm goes off and I wake up.

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