HAVANA TIMES – I can’t forget my 7-year-old son’s words after being in lockdown in Cuba, for 45 days. I remember his little face of somebody who knows a lot, even if he doesn’t fully understand the mysteries that surround him.
In his mind, where fast-moving games and multi-colored tickles live, hides the ingenious idea of closing down schools and never-ending holidays.
Movies every day, eating popcorn, playing robbers, pirates, the police, drawings everywhere… that’s how we spent the first few weeks. I never thought that I would get tired of playing and being happy, I just wanted something to hurt and to break down.
Today, it’s been more than 60 days and I just sit next to him, in silence I look at his pale little face because he hasn’t been out in the sun, I look into his coffee-colored eyes with long lashes that remind me of my mother. My son has grown a lot recently, he has matured. He no longer runs and jumps about, and I have even caught him crying quietly.
This morning, this small young man ate his bread and the last cup of powdered milk. I don’t know how to tell him that we won’t eat lunch today, that we’ve run out of rice, that we’ve already eaten the last tin of tuna, that I only have 10 CUC left and I might not even be able to spend them because I haven’t been able to get into the store for two weeks now, even though I’ve gone to stand in line really early in the morning while he’s still asleep.
My son has this strange glint in his eye, sometimes I get the feeling he’s an old man full of wisdom trapped in this little body that hugs my waist. I kiss him on the forehead, I try and tell him something, but he squeezes me tightly and the words escape me.
He opens the fridge, looking at the compartment where I used to keep his chocolates for a long time, and it’s empty. He pretends to take out some water, but I know he’s hungry. He doesn’t say anything though, I feel like he can read my mind. I try and not show him that I’m worried in any way, even though this uncertainty terrifies me, not knowing how long it will be before we reach some kind of “normalcy”.
“Mama, what will we do with the fridge?” The question resounds in the entire kitchen. I imagine that at his young age and seeing a machine that no longer holds food, but lots of bottles of water and ice, well, that he thinks it isn’t much good for anything anymore.
I burst out laughing and a million funny images dance in my mind: the ration store manager with his green mask shouting for people to get in line for disinfectant, the neighbor singing at the top of her lungs her new version of the Titanic, and my son in front of me asking what we’ll do with the fridge.
As I’m one of those women that Life has taught to improvise, I tell him with the best of my smiles – well, we’ll have to decorate it. I go and get all kinds of colored pencils, paints and crayons while I look at the white, large surface that no longer smells of food, nor sweets, or newly-bought chocolates.