Carlos Fraguela

That’s me.

HAVANA TIMES – I believe I was born in Havana in 1964, but I have no memories of my childhood before I was 2. Memories become blurrier the farther I think back. I have a feeling it was a time when one could not easily be free of fear. I recall I would pee my bed and that this lasted until I was in primary school.

I never liked school because it would take me away from my mother. Some teachers and classmates were also aggressive. One time, a teacher who made a point of mistreating us regularly, accidentally exposed half the classroom to tuberculosis. She had bad breath and would talk to you sticking her face in yours, sprinkling you with saliva. She was intimidating and wasn’t the only one who used coercion as a means of disciplining students. Contracting the disease spelled more than a year of treatment with some pills named Insonic.

I would cry when they took me to school and if they picked me up late. They would call me “cry-baby.”

My mother would be furious every time I peed in the bed (I’ve already told you she tried everything to put an end to that). I think I continued to do this into the sixth grade.

Later, I had to overcome the fear of being operated on when I was forced to have a circumcision at age 11. To cheer me up, a charming young nurse who started my treatment told me my penis was one of the nicest she’d seen in her life, even though it was all sown up and colored with antiseptics. The bodily changes that would later have an impact on my life began then.

My mother and I.

While at primary school, one of my closest friends died. I don’t remember why, and I am certain I loved him. Another friend of mine lost sight out of one eye after he was hit by a fence staple someone threw. We never found out who it was. I’m sure it was an accident that must have made many afraid, as it made me, of losing an eye and even one’s life.

People’s insistence I needed a girlfriend made me feel very strange. I wanted to be obedient but something more powerful was pushing me in a direction opposite what everyone else had accepted. As a child, I discovered I liked complexity. When my mother’s interests clashed with mine, I began to be secretive about things. My mother wanted to choose my friends and partners for me.

As a child, I had a small fan I would play with, plugging it and unplugging it. One day, a spark bigger than I had seen before startled me and made me afraid of electric current. Much of this fear remains to this day.


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