The second birth is very different from the first.
The first time you are born you are not conscious that you are being born, and awareness arrives gradually, in stages, giving your senses time to adjust and time for things to fall into place. The second time your awareness is instantaneous and overwhelming, and all your senses and nerves and systems of perception and manners of discerning burst out at full gallop. You are fascinated and surprised, and you try to grasp what’s going on around you and come to terms with the marvel of the occasion. You realize that nothing is what it was, and that it is not you who is different but the world around, which has acquired new colors and hues and shades, that old correspondences no longer hold, and that you are in limbo—suspended between admiration and disbelief—taking things in without comprehending them, but not caring too much about this failure because you know this is not a time to understand but a time to behold.
It was March 10, 1952.
The day before, a Sunday, Kiko and I had been watching an evening news and commentary program on television, and had seen Jorge Mañach, university professor and senatorial candidate for the Partido Ortodoxo, dismiss with incontestable academic certainty a question concerning rumors that Batista was preparing a military coup. I hadn’t even heard the rumor, and the idea of a military takeover had never entered my mind; perhaps I thought we were beyond such roguery or, more probably, ignorance and inexperience had prevented me from contemplating such a possibility. Either way, I was willing to accept without question the reassuring wisdom emanating from such a learned and distinguished source. It could not have been otherwise, because to be a professor in an