Ya viene llegando.
There wasnt a dry eye in the place. Some of us began crying before even the first note was played. I felt it build up as President Bush began his introduction. And the moment Chirino stepped up on that stage – right there in the East Wing of the White House – everything hit me all at once. The whole DC-White House trip and its purpose smacked me dead on in the face and turned me into a weeping basketcase.
I always get teary eyed when I hear Ya Viene Llegando, no matter where Im at. And that song conjures up incredible memories for me, from my Tia Olga singing it, ad nauseum, with her feet in the pool of the now gone Hilyard Manor Motel and Apartments one summer to rallies for Cuba on Calle Ocho. But I can now safely say that this week’s version and its venue is and will always be, by far, the most emotional and meaningful. I was completely blown away.
Old men cried as Willy sang. Their wives consoled them through tears as well. Congressmen and politicos had tears streaming down their cheeks. Cubans and non-Cubans alike shared an unprecedented and emotional lachrymose few moments.
Yamile Llanes Labrada wept openly, clutching her daughter. I almost lost control as I watched her mimic the words to the song – like an anthem – through sobs.
It was an incredible moment and I wished that everyone were there to live it. Willy Chirino singing Ya Viene Llegando at the White House. At the White House! I find it hard to maintain my composure right now, as I type these words.
When the ceremony came to an end, I went up to Willy, bloodshot, tear-filled eyes and all and said “Coño, Willy. Me desbaratastes.”
“I could hardly get the words out,” he replied. He, too, had watery eyes.
But what will make that song truly memorable for me wont just be that I witnessed it being sung at the White House.
I spoke to Yamile at the reception following the event and told her that when I saw her mimicking the words through tears, knowing her pain and suffering at having her husband in a Cuban jail cell, I completely lost it.
“Imagine,” she said. “That song brings back some memories for me. I couldnt help but cry. Me recorde de todos los actos de repudio.”
I asked her why it reminded her of acts of repudiation.
“That song,” she said. “When I was at home with my four children and they came to do an acto de repudio at my house…” She paused for a second for each of us to maintain our composure.
“My only defense was a cassette tape I had of that song. When there was a hundred people outside of my home screaming vulgarities and obscenities, I would put that cassette in the stereo and play Ya Viene Llegando. When they raised the volume of their obscenities, I raised the volume of my stereo.”
“The louder they screamed, the louder Willy sang.”
Ya viene llegando.