What’s Going On With Us?

By Irina Pino

HAVANA TIMES – It gets to a point when we start going crazy inside the house, the same activities over and over again, going out to find food which is fruitless a lot of the time because of shortages and the dubious quality. Bananas don’t taste of anything at the agro-market, they have a sour taste as they’re forcefully ripened, God knows with what.

I won’t talk about prices, because it’s been talked about to death, the only thing I will say is that nobody knows where we’re going to end up, if things don’t stop and everyone keeps on doing what they want to because there aren’t any price caps.

The problem is the State isn’t selling. That’s why small private business owners can carry on doing whatever they want and everything is chaos. Just imagine: eating a plate of black beans with string beans and a tamale is a real luxury.

A neighbor keeps telling me change is coming, that the Russians will invest in our island and the battered economy will flourish. But, when? These changes will come in the long-term, I’m sure. Will I be able to enjoy them when I’m 70 years old?

Insecurity is like a dark cloud; you have to be a magician to invent a different landscape. I tell myself, let’s go to cinema today to do something different, that way I get out a little. However, you can barely walk along the sidewalk because lots of them are made with coarse cement (waiting for a finishing that never came), countless potholes and wastewater leaking and running down into the gutter. Not to mention the mountains of garbage, dumpsters without wheels, leaning against a wall and prone to be taken apart.

The other day I ventured further and went to the La Rampa movie theater. I arrived after walking quite a few blocks under the scorching afternoon sun. A French movie starring Catherine Denueve was being shown that I wanted to see.

Photo: radiorebelde.cu

I was the only person, but tickets were still being sold for another 30 minutes. The ticket office assistant looked at me almost out of pity and told me that the movie theater wouldn’t open unless there were at least four people.

I was running out of hope to see the movie, when a young man appeared, and then a couple. I took a breath of relief, we could go in. By the way, once inside the movie theater, the number of viewers grew, and there were seven of us in the end.

But the movie had just about started, and I found it impossible to concentrate on what I was seeing on the screen. The young man didn’t stop talking, giving his opinions about this and that.

When we left, he spoke with me as if he had known me a long time. He talked about feeling very alone and sad. He started talking about friends who had left the country, by different means, and he didn’t know what would become of his life in the future. He even asked me for advice, if he should sell his apartment and leave, or whether it was better to stay with the hope of an unclear future. You could tell that he really needed to talk to somebody.

I didn’t know what to tell him. I just managed to ask him his age. The young man was 33 years old (the age of Christ). I hope his emotional instability doesn’t lead him to do anything he might regret later.

I walked back home, again, the sun was just about setting, the breeze was cooler. I changed my route so I didn’t walk the same way I’d come. To see if it would give me another perspective.

Read more from Irina Pino’s diary here.

Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

One thought on “What’s Going On With Us?

  • Irina’s articles are typically wonderful.
    Irina makes her observational points – however, it’s what is unsaid but implied that is so clever.
    Melancholy, meaningful and always free from lame-ass ideological posturing.
    The off-handed irony that, according to the neighbor, a new round of Russian dependency could be the answer to Cuba’s insane economic woes………..
    What could be worse?
    Bless you Irina.

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