Illustration: Roman Alsina
Illustration: Roman Alsina

Literature feat. Music: Victrola

3 minutos / Angel Santiesteban Prats

10.07.2020 / Articles

Since he got to the block, he bragged that he knew many songs. That his voice remembered that of Julio Iglesias was his disgrace, they have never let him remain silent.

It was the salvation of prisoners to fight boredom, the many hours of leisure, despair for something that can change their lives and stop the flow of irrepressible ideas, always the same images, the desired woman going to meet another, longing to walk without haste on any street, to share with friends and, suddenly, this man who arrives and by singing revives nostalgia, reminds them of places, words, they feel that they return to the past, that at least a few seconds they are free again, and to be free is to forget about the present, all those men who look frightened from their beds at what is happening around them.

When Chepe, the kingpin, passed by a corridor and listened to him, he was detained for a while, thinking, seeing how the others asked him for songs and he pleased them. Someone said he was a victrola and no one knew his name anymore; Chepe then asked him to move his belongings to a bed in his hallway. The singer felt protected and considered the action as an act of generosity with his person and walked proudly through the center of the block. The principal was waiting for him lying on his bunk. When Victrola arrived, Calabaza showed him his place, wanted to make him a bed, and Chepe ordered him to leave it for later, to please him first with various songs he wanted to listen to. 

In the block there was silence, everyone wanted to hear the melodies so they could mentally escape from the confinement. Victrola sat on her bag and asked what songs they would like to hear. Chepe said he liked them all. From that moment the boy did not stop singing for several days, the client waved him over and over again so that he did not rest, he did not accept the justification that his throat was affected, or that he was sleepy: all the time he was denying him silence. Sometimes Chepe fell asleep and the boy went off and inclined his body to sleep, but the client had become accustomed to him and when he did not listen to him, he woke up again and became annoyed, shouted vaguely, bit his lips to hit him. Victrola raised his voice again, as far as he could, and Chepe resumed sleep; now the other was afraid to keep quiet and be beaten again, his voice no longer remembered anyone and disturbed the sleep of others, several prisoners would have liked to complain, but no one had the courage to contradict the kingpin. 

The first signs of dawn began to enter through the skylight. Pumpkin put the pillow over his head to isolate himself from the noise, it was just the sound of a rusty hinge. Chepe could not bear it either and began to beat him with his feet, complaining that he had cheated on him: he was not Julio Iglesias nor was he a victrola. 

 

Story from the book Blissful Those Who Cry , Havana, Casa de las Américas Publishing Fund, 2006. Casa de las Américas 2006 Story Award.
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Angel Santiesteban Prats

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