An Ode to the Lenin School
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
By Dario Alejandro Escobar
The nostalgic adult would like to go back over his memories and relive his times of glory and pleasure. The Lenin has on its students and teachers that magical effect that falls in love and compromises, perhaps ridiculous for the uninitiated in this youth brotherhood.
It doesn’t matter if they graduated, if they stayed a year or a month: the time argument is irrelevant. Because if you had the opportunity to live there, even if it was just a short period of time, you will be fascinated by the wonderful woman who deflowers you to become a different human being, almost always better.
The Vocational Institute of Exact Sciences Vladimir Ilich Lenin is forty-four years old today. It is easy to write and quicker to say, but it would be unfair to think of the thousands of students who have passed through their classrooms and hostels as mere data for a report.
The Lenin must be evoked in the new sensations of the first day as we walk, aisle after aisle, through its accomplice buildings. In the furtive and deep loves, those that shake our chest and make our face blush if we remember them. In the tears of many in the face of powerlessness for not understanding enough a subject that diminished – let’s be honest and admit it now – academic qualification and also personal pride. In the “infamous” guards on weekends; in the passes “removed” by the accumulation of reports; in the chaotic recreations, as close as possible to the meaning of “party”, even after the ones experienced in my special college years.
In those recreational spaces of the Lenin I learned to dance casino and to chant Silvio Rodríguez with any deflecting guitar. In the Lenin I smoked for the first time and in its nights I wrote my first attempts at literature.
The School has invariably shown some elitist inspiration. There’s no point in denying it. From the ways to get in, to the social and academic division of its groups, everything pointed towards excellence and exclusivity; but it has also had an avant-garde vocation. It wanted – and in my opinion it has succeeded in general – in training the most integral pre-university students. The one who knows the natural and exact sciences in above-average detail, and in turn has read a good number of the classics of literature or traditional and contemporary music. At least it was like that back in the day when I studied there
For being the avant-garde school that sheltered us, we venerated it. For developing the potential skills of your students, for making us grow from study, work and responsibility towards ourselves.
It is in the human and intellectual quality of its best students that the magic of the Lenin School resides. More than a decade after being abandoned by my fellow students, Vocations continues to graduate restless boys: boys who arrive at university with a desire to “eat the world”.
So much time later, and with a very important part of its graduates residing outside the country, parties are celebrated where people with antipodean differences in many aspects of life meet: ideological, sexual, and geographic, but united by the circular monogram very red with an atom in the center, worn in the sleeve of the shirt, or of the blouse, during the preuniversity.
I still find myself in the streets, in guaguas [buses], and more and more frequently on the Internet, people of my year, whom I greet with nothing else in common but to recognize us from that place. The school has remained engraved in the collective memory of its students as a great sect of friendship, a religion that few have renounced. A beautiful manifestation of memory grateful to the past.
These days I can’t get in to tour the school the way I want to. Bureaucratic reasons are holding me back. The Lenin is falling apart and there are those who justify laziness with incredible arguments. It hurts a lot but it doesn’t matter, because I have so much accumulated memory, so many friends scattered around, so many songs evocative of innocence, that no barrier can prevent me from feeling like the first time, a Lenin School student again and again when it comes to Graduation Day.