It began almost unperceived, like a loose thread on a sweater not spotted until the garment begins to unravel, or the almost imperceptive crack in a coffee mug so familiar that it is seldom inspected.
The bearded man was welcome among his people. They ran to meet him, jubilant and full of hope on the day of his triumphant arrival. On an island adorned with bright multi colored flowers, sunny skies where clouds loved to play, and a vibrant blue ocean, Olive Green made its debut. Right away we should have known the color was all wrong. It resonated with nothing that surrounded us. But we were used to playing with chameleons as children, and were willing to wait for Fidel to get his bearings and change the color of his dress.
A little girl had grown up on that island, her body nurtured by its sun and the salty ocean breezes, and her heart by the sweetness of the friends that surrounded her and her faith in God. She had turned eleven a little over two months before her island began to change color, although the first threads had begun to unravel one day a few years before when she arrived home from school to find a tortured man dying on her bed.
Shortly after the arrival of Fidel, of Olive Green, her history began to be rewritten. Fidel, who promised to liberate the island from a cruel dictator, wove a tale instead of being the liberator of a country consumed by poverty and inequality to justify his Communist dictatorship.
One day the whole world came to believe him.
I was that eleven- year old girl.
When Olive Green began to cloud over all the colors of my island two years later, I was sent away to a land where different colors that still shimmered in the sun. For half a century I have carried a burden of sadness and longing for the island where my bones were formed. An island that now only exists in the memory of the last generation of its children.
I have watched myself age, my face as changed as the island that lies dormant and decaying, now fully covered by an Olive Green cloth, as if Christo had chosen to make her his next work of art and been let loose upon her shores.
As I get closer to the ending of my life, I feel an urgent need to speak. Who will tell all the twelve- year old children who walk on the island today, that the ruins under their feet are but the remnants of a golden island that once shone like a million tons of gold?
Who will tell the twelve -year old children all over the world that we watched as a paradise disappeared because the power of one man’s word was greater than that of the shouts of two million exiles? How do we explain to them that our voices were drowned out no matter how loudly they spoke even by the press of the free country that harbored us?
I will. I will join my voice to that of their other ancestors who tirelessly tell the truth. That they once lived on an island adorned with bright multi colored flowers, sunny skies where clouds loved to play, and a vibrant blue ocean, before Olive Green made its debut.