Last night, for the first time in seventeen days, I have slept under a real roof. Slow progress is being made in this area. During the first week in the open air, I slept wherever I found some space. Near the Eastern Fountain, on the square of the General Assembly, or nice and cozy on the warm subway grid between the Moroccans. (There is room enough between the Morrocans because nobody else wants to sleep there.) But when the place started seriously to degrade and even the shelter was at risk of collapsing, I moved to the nursery. And now, since a couple of days, I share a tent with my comrades of the International Brigade. At first we had pitched the tent near the Western Fountain, but that isn’t known to be a good neighbourhood. Since yesterday we moved into the residential area on a corner near the tents of Food III and Spirituality, a great place for healthy and enlightened sleep.
Enlightened perhaps, but no less wet. It has been humid these days. Yesterday it came pouring down all through the day, interspersed with short periods of drizzle. This can be very demoralising. When it rains the electricity is shut down, so the communication with the world ceases. Looking at the dark sky, you walk around the village shivering in your shorts because all your other clothes are unbearably dirty by now. You’re tired and you start to doubt the revolution.
These are dangerous times. Doubt is contagious. And fatigue will only facilitate doubt. Fortunately, in these cases it can happen that an angel of the revolution appears to you to cheer you up. In this case, she is a comrade of Audiovisuals, battlename ‘Alicia’.
“Come on!” she says, “let’s go film the General Assembly!”
It’s almost eight o’ clock and it rains. The Assembly had already been cancelled yesterday because of the weather and it looks like it’s going to happen again. But when our International Brigade arrives on the spot, my pessimism has vanished. All over the square there are small groups of people, under their umbrellas waiting. They want to assemble, rain or no rain. It was announced that the assembly would be delayed until the rain stops. People just keep standing around. In the meantime, Alicia comes up with an idea. She pulls out her camera. “Let’s go ask people what they think of the rain.”
I look at her. Is she serious? I do not know, she hops away, and before long I stand there with an umbrella over her camera while she invites people to be interviewed with a smile that makes it impossible to decline. She had been reasoning ten times as quick as the rest of us. The idea seems brilliant in its simplicity. After the initial surprise, people begin to laugh as they explain that there’s nothing wrong with a bit of rain. It’s refreshing, and it’s good for the crops. They respond cheerfully, they resist. If a few drops of rain deters them from coming together, what would our democracy be worth?
For an hour people keep waiting on the square. But the rain continues. Eventually everyone comes together in a small circle for an Emergency Assembly, to decide when the General Assembly should be held, and where. All photographers and film crews who normally cover the Assembly have long gone by this time. The only person who keeps on shooting is Alicia.
It is agreed that no further assembly will be held tonight, but since there’s a good chance of rain for tomorrow as well, we have to find a solution. It may not occur that three consecutive assemblies are cancelled for the same reason. Also because there is an important decision to be taken. We must decide whether we stay, and if so until when.
It is suggested that we meet somewhere else, under a roof. The idea is rejected. Puerta del Sol is the official seat of the General Assembly. When we meet, we meet here. It is suggested that tomorrow we cover the square to protect the entire assembly against the rain. “We do not have the equipment to do that at the moment”, says the representative of Infrastructure, “but if we start sending out messages in all directions, we can have the canvases and the manpower here by tomorrow afternoon…” The Emergency Assembly gives its consent. We will try.
In the end an old man comes forward. He wants to say something, he gets the megaphone, umbrellas are raised to shelter him.
“Comrades!” he gurgles, “what we have achieved together in recent weeks is unprecedented. Finally people have found the space to talk to each other. We will continue with this! We will keep coming together. And neither the rain, nor god almighty himself will prevent us from doing so!” Cheers and applause. Alicia records it all. Even when the Emergency Assembly has been adjourned and most people have left, leaving only the hardened oldies in the pouring rain to discuss about socialism, communism and the sovereignty of the people, the camera keeps rolling, until the memory card is full.
Alicia is 17 years old. She’s still in high school. Today she had a test for visual arts. Because of her dedication, creativity and exceptional merits for the democratic revolution I have granted myself the authority to reward her efforts with an A, cum laude.
When we return to Communications she calls her mother. “Mom, can I take over three complete strangers?”
It was ok. Her mother is a sympathiser of the movement. We are fed, we can wash ourselves, we are pampered. Keep on going, comrades, with fresh courage. That is the message. When we step outside in the morning to return to Puerta del Sol, our faith in the revolution has returned.