Rocco in the Futureless Country
Rocco recalls his childhood and his uncle’s words, the uncle who taught him to play chess and after months of managing to beat him, he heard him say: “You’re really talented; fight to be better. The greatest players travel all over the world and live like rich men.”
Since then, he was only passionate about a board with 32 chess pieces and 64 squares, where strategies, tactical plays and checkmate combinations were cast and that’s how he played, competed in, and won tournaments, like the provincial school one in 1989.
But Rocco was a rural boy without any connections, without a map that would lead him to success and the dream was cut short in his teenage years, when he decided to adopt another goal; become a great lawyer and after a rough career path, he managed to get a Law degree graduate at nearly 30 years old.
He joined a law firm and classified to teach Law at University. Passionate as always, he devoured every book on the subject that fell into his hands. He became a kind of walking talking encyclopedia.
He built his reputation case by case, but he had nothing in his country of misery and worst yet, Rocco was always a stubborn and disobedient guy. It’s like a gene that has been controlling him since birth.
He remembers his early years as a student with a smirk. In his school books, after every order for homework, the teacher would underline it the next day with a “it stands out for its absence,” as it would be a blank page. He also remembers running away from boarding schools, military service…
Rocco is irreverent, libertarian, opposed to any power that threatens his autonomy, and this is why his words cost him being kicked out of the law firm and University.
Things were never the same for him, he had to bury this dream deep down in his heart, or at least put it to sleep, waiting for a better future nowhere in sight.
Then, the epiphany came one morning in January 2016, when he felt like he could finally stand up with Literature, this refined and elegant woman who had been chasing him since adolescence, but he always ran away from her because he didn’t think he was good enough.
Their date had been set years before when his tutor at pre-university recorded a note in his school file that read: “He aspires to be a writer and he has the potential to be one.”
That evening, he wrote the first words of what would be his debut. He felt like he was possessed by a supernatural force that made him believe that yes, a man’s old dreams can become reality despite living in Cuba.
Making a living off Literature, in the same way a pimp can make a living off a classy prostitute. It isn’t an entirely absurd analogy. He liked the idea of living in a brothel surrounded by his lovers: Story, Novel, Chronicle, Essay and Poetry, although the latter is normally more slippery or is perhaps afraid of him.
But Literature doesn’t feed pimps, much less in Cuba, the country of pipe dreams. The thing is, Rocco came into the world at the wrong time and in the wrong country.
This is why he’s built a protective bubble with fitness and writing, while he waits for the right moment when he can pick up on his dreams that have never left him, because not dreaming is like dying while being alive.
Rocco wants to leave already. The truth is, he never thought about it, he always held onto the hope of a better country. Now, everything seems almost impossible, and he is waiting for his parole application to the country of opportunities to be approved.
He knows that if it is approved, things won’t be so easy, he’s a dreamer, not deluded. The first few years will be backbreaking work without hardly any time for himself, but it’s also the only way he can get ahead in life and help his young daughter.
It’s really hard to do this in Cuba, a sunken, destroyed, oppressed, hungry, poor country (it deserves all of these adjectives) hijacked by a mafia that killed its future and locked up Hope in a dungeon.