By Fabiana del Valle
HAVANA TIMES – My brother’s birthday is coming up and his wife wants to celebrate it as we normally do. Times are hard, lots of people are choosing the easy way out, but she doesn’t give up. Her small stature is made up by a huge heart, and determination that is enviable.
Days before his birthday, she left early in the morning with her mother to go to Los Palacios, because she needed to buy things for the party. When she called me from there and told me, let me tell you… I knew that the story would end up here, written, and ready to be read.
We got to the town early. We had to pass by the bakery first, I want to make bread rolls with a seasoning from a recipe I found on Facebook. By the way, I’ll tell you how to make it later, it’s cheap and delicious.
You could see the swarm of people from far away. It was like they were giving out donations, not selling bread! Of course, you know, it’d been three days without bread being sold via the rations booklet. People were crazy, fighting for their children’s school snack. Like in every line that is respected, the last one in line didn’t appear, although we did finally find him.
We waited almost two hours there and there was no bread. Well, no bread for anyone in line, the self-employed had priority. Boxes and bags of bread walked past us. Some people were leaning against handrails of doorways to escape the sun, others found a seat on a wall outside a house.
Every twenty minutes or so, a half-blind elderly person would storm past. They’d hit every obstacle, person, or bicycle with their stick, they didn’t care. I’m going in front, they’d say. Of course, they went in front. nobody wanted to be on the receiving end of their stick!
When the bakery finally opened, the battle ensued. People at the door crowded around it, one person shouted I’m handicapped, another one that she was pregnant and the bravest complained that they had got there first. There was a line for men and another for women, but because the wait was so long, many people had left and that’s when everything got screwed up.
The bakery manager came out to tell us that when the bread runs out, we’d have to wait for another batch at around 1 PM. Aww you’re so sweet, I told my mami, this will be for people from, here, we can’t wait until then.
Amidst that discouragement, aggressiveness, the concern we might not make it or not, the old man and his walking stick passing by every now and then, the scorching sun, I made out some dog droppings next to the staircase that goes up to the door. You know, it was heaven for the flies around it! I just kept thinking, I hope none of those bugs get to the bread.
The line moved forward. They were only selling three rolls per person, but we went in line again to get another lot and even counting money was a problem with that inconvenience, the math didn’t add up. We managed to get a second turn in the end and I was able to take the last rolls available.
To alleviate the heat and hard time, my mom felt like having an ice cream at Coppelia. It was approximately 10 AM and a person told us that it would open at 10:30 so we decided to wait. More and more people were coming, but the employees weren’t getting ready to open, they were talking amongst themselves, looking at their cellphones as if it wasn’t only two minutes until they opened.
A woman decided to go in and find out what was going on, they told her that they didn’t know if they were going to open, the ice cream hadn’t arrived yet. You know, I don’t get worked up so easily, but my patience was already at breaking point. Couldn’t they have come out and told us that to prevent us from waiting in vain? I took mami by the hand, we gave a Ferrari a good run with our pace.
To finish off our torture, the horse-drawn cart we took to the highway had a pipe instead of a spring, That made it the longest kilometer in my life, we were bouncing all over the place!
And well, that’s the story! I’ve given you the story and you’ll write it for me, that’s why you’re the writer.
I smiled and I caught some of that energy that surrounds her, no negative force can undermine her will.