I can’t take it no more. The sound of rhetoric political speeches for the election have become unbearably boring. After reading three newspapers and five cups of coffee (five cups? You mad woman!) I drove to Pavilion and headed straight to Times Bookstore. Perfect date: me and the books, the coffee has just got to go though.
My steps came to complete halt as I was passing through the new arrival’s shelves; my eyes were drawn to a new hardcover being displayed on the top shelf. “Fidel Castro, My Life.” The picture adorned on the book’s cover is that of a young Castro in his fatigue inhaling the addiction of his life – cigar.
A renowned Spanish journalist, Ignacio Ramonet, won a lottery in journalism when Castro agreed to grant him 100 hours of interview before he fell ill in 2006. Ramonet subsequently wrote Castro’s first spoken-autobiography.
While being a social pariah to many democratically-inspired Cubans, much has been left unsaid about this elusive leader. Castro, who ruled Cuba from 1959 to 2008; rose to power shortly after overthrowing the previous dictator, Batista.
Castro’s classmates crowned him “El Loco” which means “the Insane” befitting his tendency to test the law despite being a brilliant student at the same time.
What amazes me most about this illustrious Cuban is his ability to navigate a relatively small country through decades of political crisis with the super power – United States. Castro ruled to see the succession of 11 presidents of the United States from Eisenhower to Bush Jr. He survived countless of assassination attempts by sheer wit and shrewdness.
Castro warded off the attempt to oust him by 1,400 members of CIA-trained Cuban exile force known as the Bay of Pigs invasion. Kennedy denied responsibilities for this infamous invasion.
Castro is best remembered for putting the US on its toe with the missile crisis in 1962 and his close alliance with communist leaders. The world saw the closest point to a nuclear war between the US and the USSR when he allowed Khrushvev to place missiles in Cuba to avoid US invasion. The relationship between Castro and Khrushvev soon faltered bringing an end to the possibility of nuke war.
National Geographic reports that this quintessential son of Cuba once spotted wrapping his arm around the shoulders of an old lady, looked up for her farm and cordially asked, “how are those chicken doing sister?” He won the hearts of Cuban ladies but kept his love-life private most of the time.
Castro drove around Cuba to promote the plantation of sugarcane. He dressed himself as a farmer, pulled a boot up his leg and swayed those sharp knives to harvest sugarcane with ordinary Cubans.
However, Castro allegedly amassed personal fortune throughout his tenure in leading Cuba. For most of us, Castro remained an opaque.
Now back to reality. I glanced around and noticed the thinning crowd in the bookstore as the clock approached to 9 p.m.. “Ah, I got to buy this, ” I whispered to myself. I flipped the book around in search of the price tag; the book is retailed a whopping RM137.50. A sure source of bankruptcy for yours truly.
[Sources: National Geographic, Castro’s autobiography and picture stolen from Barnes & Noble without their permission]