When I was a child, I thought that women never die. Just for being women, for what they represent. However, when I was a teenager, the first lifeless body I saw up close was that of my second cousin Emelin, Aunt Andrea’s daughter. And I suddenly grew up. Yes, women are dying. And to me, as an adult, it still seems to be a design error of the one who created the universe. Maybe it’s my childhood part. But when misfortunes like today happen – how unhappy we are, losing friends, and even more friends – when such a beloved, adored, respected woman suddenly dies, orphanhood is terrible, and the very desire to cry and cry takes your breath away, causes asthma.

“There are such strong blows in life, I don’t know …,” wrote the clairvoyant Cesar Vallejo, and there are so many such blows that you don’t even know. “It blows like hatred of God,” Vallejo said, but this code does not work for my Pakita Armas, such an irreverent atheist friend who separated me on the morning of Monday, February 27, 2023. “Eternity finally begins on Monday,” said another poet, the great Eliseo Diego; and he was right. Although Vallejo answers him in a controversial style: “My eternity has died, and I’m watching it.” To which Eliseo adds: “and the next day hardly has a name, and the other is dark, abolished.” And Vallejo finishes off, shouting to God: “You don’t have Paquitas that are leaving!”

Today, Monday, eternity began for Pakita Armas. How did I know? Well, asked my son Axel from Spain on a WhatsApp family group. Is Pakita dead? I didn’t see your message, my Lisset told me, and the answer was already in the question itself. I, the writer, let go of the keyboard, fell into nowhere. I absurdly repeated the question: “Paquita died?” “But I spoke to her yesterday” is a typical silly slogan that dictates surprise on such occasions. But it’s true, it’s true: I spoke to her yesterday. It’s hard. So strange. “There are such strong blows in life, I don’t know…”. Paquita Armas Fonseca has died. My Packet. Our Packet. Bale of many. So many years have fallen on me today, so many memories, conversations, readings, laughter, discussions. But a great tombstone of repentance fell on me for the hug that was missed, unjustifiably. Yesterday I spoke to her on the phone. I was visiting Vedado, just two blocks from her house, and I said to Lisset: “I’ll call Pakita, we’ll invite her for coffee. Let her come here, or we’ll go to her house.” I haven’t seen her in months, at least since November, when I drank her coffee (tradition between us). And yesterday I called her. Three times. To mobile. to landline By whatsapp. But he didn’t answer. How strange, said Lisset. And she also called her, from her mobile. He didn’t answer either. It was strange. Yes, Pakita was a great conversationalist, in person and on the phone. She loved to call and call “give a tooth” for any reason: cinema, soap operas, baseball, literature, gossip, politics … An hour later, already about to leave Vedado, I insisted again, called her on her mobile, and she was like that when we say Nothing special. Typical conversation with friends. But, on “how are you, skinny?” (she made fun of me: she said that I was the only one who, after quitting smoking, continued to call her thin), a tired, broken voice answered: I have asthma. You could say it was wrong; Those of us who knew her know that her natural timbre was that of an intellectual baseball fan who even talked about philosophy like she was in the ninth inning when the game was down and Santiago lost. This “I have asthma” sounded very sad to me, to me, who had seen her in the same situation so many times. “What do you drink?” I asked him, in case I could bring him something. Salbutamol, he told me, and now another medicine will be brought. “Paca, I called you several times to invite you for coffee, I’m in Vedado,” I told him. “I have asthma,” was his reply, and he added, “You should come.” It was a tradition with us, since we were neighbors in the Infanta and Manglara. I, not a big coffee drinker, who even boasts, telling Bola de Nieve that I am one of the few Negroes who do not drink coffee, I confess that nowhere in the world have I drunk more coffee than in Paquita’s house. Strong and bitter, just the way he liked it. “You would come,” he said, and he was right. I never needed to tell him before to get to his house. And upon arrival, less than a minute later, the coffee pot smelled of “let’s talk.” But this time, yesterday, a car was waiting for us, because I was going to the theater, to a performance. So I just told her to take care of herself, that another day would pass, and that I loved her very much. Is it true. But today, some time ago, like a blow to the heart, the news reached me. “Paquita is dead” and I couldn’t believe it. My Packet. Our Packet. Bale of many. Paquita Diligence of my novel hurricane anonymous. Because for others, Paquita Armas was a cultural journalist, founder and former director of Caiman Barbudo, a sharp film and television critic, a committed Marxist and biographer of Marx; but for me it was all this and more: she was the best roommate I ever had; endless conversations soaked in beer and rum; reader of my handwritten novels; a woman that there was nothing, absolutely nothing, that was needed and didn’t get it or tried hard to get it. The same egg, pin, phone number or book. I have never met anyone like this, with such a calling to serve and be of service. Someone so diligent… So much so that Paquita Diligencia is co-starring with Dr. Rubiera in one of my novels. Paquita Diligence: A portrait and a small tribute.

There are many memories that flood me now between tears and a knot in my stomach. Paquita for a walk with me in Old Havana; Paquita with Natalia and Alejandro as aunt in Infanta and Manglar; Paquita in guajiro punto guateques; Pakita in Bimbom in front of our old building challenges me to see if we can put an end to pirate production (I think we did); Pakita and Marx, Pakita and Marlon Brando, Pakita and Evita, Pakita and Fidel, Pakita and the team of Santiago de Cuba; Pakita and her princess, a girl who filled the last years of her life with light and love.

Yes, Paquita, my Paquita, died today, and I mourned her like a family member. Like it’s been since we met. It took me longer than ever to write this goodbye because I didn’t know what to say or where to start missing her. We have so many pending negotiations. His farewell took me by surprise.

Today I said to myself, “Sometimes those who cling to unbelief (in all its forms) don’t see or can’t read the signs.” And yesterday they were very clear. Of the many times I’ve been to Vedado, yesterday as soon as I arrived I thought about calling her and asking her out for coffee. Was it my prescient subconscious? Of the many times I’ve called her on the phone, yesterday was the first time she didn’t answer four calls. Was it a notice? Of the many times she’s seen me call her, yesterday Lisset also insisted on calling her. Gain sign? And then her asthma, her weak voice, her “would you come,” my feeling, real, that I made a bad impression on my best friend by being so close and not going to visit her. Anyway. He has no more medicine. Nothing will change the fact that this coffee was supposed to be our last coffee, our farewell coffee. Oh Vallejo, poet, “there are blows in life that are so strong, I don’t know, blows like the hatred of Marx…” Oh, Eliseo Diego, death is (again) “a stain on the wall.”

Although it’s better to say with tens:

Goodbye, dear Pakita.

My friend, my family.

How I will miss you!

Who will I visit?

The knot won’t come off

stomach and chest.

How sad. There is no right.

What silence. How empty.

The sun is cold today.

What have you done, Paka, what have you done.

Who will ask me for “cold”

What would I like to buy?

who will pour me coffee

any time of the day?

who will study philosophy

talking about audiovisual materials?

Who will speak as equals

Evita, Engels and Marty?

who will laugh at me

whenever you lose industriales?

We will miss you.

I mean, we already miss you.

You made us repeat:

“The good ones always leave.”

I have full boxes

memories, poems, photographs.

You and me, eternal co-pilots.

You and me, city fish.

you don’t know the amount

friends that we are broken.

What have you done, Paka? Do not play.

That today there is a rock on the Cayman

And everyone will miss you…!

They won’t start until you arrive.

What did you do, Pak? not deliver

your smile, your scarf,

your Olga’s taste,

your exciting journalism.

Come on, we’re live.

And Santiago will play!

(Taken from

Source: Juventud Rebelde


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