IT IS JUST A JOURNEY SAUL, THE OTHER IS NOT TRUE
(For Saúl Landau, with admiration and affection)
It is not true Saul, do not repeat it. I know, others are also saying it, but it is not true. There is a pain in the voice of Carmen when she answers my call, but it cannot be true.
You may say that Yes, old friends have called you and others have come from afar to see you, and the tributes have already begun. Even your own body loudly says it is true. But that does not matter, I know that it is not true. How could it be true, with so many people who admire you and love you? Adriana, whenever we talk, asks me to call you again. (And if that does not mean much to you it’s because you don’t know how she defends and fights for each and every minute of my phone time). Everyone asks for you Saul from all around the world, and like me they all know that it is just a journey, that the other is not true.
A trip where? I do not know with certainty. It is like a close play in a baseball game where no one can agree on the outcome. It is a journey that many do not return, but you’re one of the privileged ones. You’ll be here whenever Danny visits me, and in Cuba when the Five are reunited. You will return whenever someone reads one of your books, or see one of your documentaries. How could you not be there when someone asks who filmed those images of Fidel pushing the jeep stuck in the mud on that road? Or so many other images you captured while traveling half of Cuba with him in 1968? Do you think that you will not be there when someone sees “Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up” and will get to understand the case of the Five? Don’t even mention that my friend! You will always be there when people see the interview with Salvador Allende, perhaps the only or at least the most important written in English, as well as when someone discovers those still unpublished images of Fidel talking at home with Harry Belafonte.
It is just a journey Saul, the other is not true. You’ll come when someone wants to know everything about the bomb that killed Letelier and Moffit in the heart of Washington DC. When someone wants to understand Chiapas or the maquiladoras. When they read your poems, or your always accurate articles. When people mention your Medal of Friendship of Cuba, your Bernardo O’Higgins of Chile, your Emmy, and so many other awards and decorations. You will come whenever I tell someone that I had the privilege to meet you, learn from you, enjoy your sense of humor, and when they ask me to whom do I owe my brotherhood with Danny Glover. You’ll always be with your family, with your friends, with your students.
Of course it is not true Saul, I know that it is only a journey. What I don’t know is if we will be able to communicate, so I don’t want to wait for your departure to tell you; thank you for everything, my brother, it was an honor to share with you. On behalf of the Five, our families, and so many good Cubans, thank you!
I will not deny that we are sad, but at the same time we are happy to know that in your case, when it happens, it will only be a trip, because you knew how to earn that privilege.
Very soon I’ll be calling you again, but you know, do not repeat it, because it is not true Saul. It is not true that you are going to die.
Gerardo Hernández Nordelo
United States Penitentiary, Victorville, California.
Saul Landau is courageously fighting a life threatening illness.
Gerardo’s letter was read to Saul Landau by one of his children.