We went to a bench in Parque Céspedes, across from the oldest house in Cuba. I passed my arm over her lean body. She fixed her hair, her tank top, her Penelope-style bag, and put on her best smile … I wasn’t satisfied with the image, not at all. I wanted to know her legend.
“Do you dare to come with me? Always with respect, with much respect”.
Respect was her word, she repeated it a thousand times, she continued saying it a long time later. She had had so much lack of it that it became her standard. I stood by her side. There were greetings and surprises too. We entered a long interior corridor.
When she introduced me to the lady owner of the house, I felt as if I had been skinned from top to bottom, from bottom to top. She then pouted as a sign of greeting and told her what to do. I left her standing in front of a basin full of dirty clothes to wash, but not before setting our next meeting.
Patricia told me her story by strokes: how one day she had to run chased by rage, how she was stoned down from a tree, how she tended livestock. And how more than one knocked on her door, under the anonymity of darkness and the most strict stealth.
Not everyone then had (or has) the courage of Patricia: to be Patricia 24 hours a day. One afternoon she confessed to me the name by which she was registered, the one reserved on papers, José Daniel Roibal Granados. Clearly it wasn’t him. In no way it matched him. Then he showed me his album.
“I don’t do this with everyone …”
María Félix with her big eyes, María Félix with her queenly gestures, clippings from here, from there. She was her idol. There were also some small photos, photos with stories that I interrupted to hold on to the pages. There was one in particular, one: Roibal in front of the mirror dressed as Patricia, Patricia Juncal, Patricia forever. Wondering, questioning us.
I asked her for it and miraculously, I convinced her. She waited for me, desperately, once she saw me leave with her treasure to be scanned. And when I returned to give her photo back, she embraced me. It is not the first time that I write about that image. It is the first time that I show it.
I never saw her again. I never knew of her death.
When on May 17, 2011, I commented on the celebration in Santiago de Cuba of the International Day Against Homophobia, Patricia was in my memories, in my reports. She would have liked to see how along these streets, the multicolored flag and the flag of the lone star marched together.
Radio has a lot to contribute to building a more inclusive, more contemporary society.
When the Café Teatro Macubá – presided by master Fátima Patterson – welcomed Piel Adentro, we remember Patricia. The first evening of that project against all discrimination paid tribute to an authentic human being, to her tenacious way of seeking happiness, to her lesson of life. Her neighbors accompanied us, and Katiuska Ramos, my colleague, my unflagging partner.
Someone said she was a noble person, yes; but with “a flaw.” We lovingly corrected the expression: love has no flaws.
I wonder where are the two cassettes that I recorded with our conversations? Where is the sound documentary that I brooded over, embroidered, traced in the air? I do not give up. I still remember our last words.
“What are you going to say about me?”
“I don’t know yet, Patricia… but I’m not going to keep my mouth shut.
LISTEN to the radio version. Patricia, no me voy a callar (Text and voice: Reinaldo Cedeño. Editing and musicalization: Jailer Cañizares