In a place of obligatory confluence, beside the main door of the Dihigo building, rests the reddish mastodon known as the “bench at the Literary School.” On it have rested, in the last decades, the most illustrious behinds of our intellectual class. Many of those knowledgeable derrières rest today on a couch in Paris or a chair in Buenos Aires or crush the lawn of a German field. Regardless of the long pilgrimages of a good portion of its “tenants,” the long seat remains, with its durable caoba,* in the same place.
Over the hard strips from which it is made, I sat the first day I arrived at the Faculty of Arts and Literature of the University of Havana and I crashed in it a couple of times, when I got a low grade. It knew of my difficulties with Latin and my predilection for Latin American literature. Its iron structure verified how few kilograms that the years of the Special Period gave to many of us students. It knew, also, of the incomprehensions that generated the sectarianism, the ideological “purges” and the dogmas.
In the wood of this austere bench, is the memory of many award-winning writers, of others in disgrace and of those already passed away, while on its back, the sweat of several generations of critics, poets and historians, has left a “tint” of erudition.
Since I graduated I have not dared to sit, again, in the “bench at the Literary School.” It is now the territory of younger ones who dream with literature, initiate themselves in poetry, and discover the way towards metaphor. It remains as tough and proud as before, since its structure seems to feed off syntactic concepts, etymological analysis and dissonant rhymes.
Caoba = A mahogany type wood