Love, Need and the Majagua Flower

Dariela Aquique

Majagua flower. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES, April 24 — Early this morning, when I was opening the windows of my apartment, I saw a young man throwing a piece of wood at the lavish foliage of a Majagua tree.

This young guy was knocking down the colorful flowers that grew on the branches of that solid old tree.

He would then collect them, with a certain degree of tenderness, and then place them in a plastic bag that the girl who was with him was holding in her hands.

After each round of throwing and collecting, the two would tenderly kiss. On one occasion — between the caresses and cuddles — he gently placed a flower behind her ear, which is how girls from the country adorn themselves.

She made a pose and he spun her around like in a dance. They both started to laugh, and after this pause they continued, immersed in deflowering the old Majagua, taking its flowers.

Today is Saturday, when young people want to go out at night and look cute. But surely these kids’ parents don’t have money to give them, and they’re only penniless students. He was wearing the uniform pants of a high school student and she was dressed as a teacher trainee.

The price of commercial hair dye makes it unaffordable to them. But when the Majagua flower is boiled, it tints the water; then, when you wash your hair in it, you can change the color of your hair.

I wasn’t aware of this natural cosmetic art, but when I spoke about that mid-morning occurrence with a friend who had grown up in the country, she told me of how women use the Majagua flower like this.

Maybe some grandmother or campesino girlfriend had given the two kids the recipe.

Then I understood. I had just been a witness to a love scene, one underpinned by necessity.

The girl had wanted to tint her hair for her boyfriend for that Saturday night, which was something that came out of love.

The boy wasn’t able to give her store-bought dye or shampoo, so he knocked down flowers so that she could change the color of her hair, which was something that came out of need.

The old defenseless Majagua tree that provides shade in my backyard can’t prevent its flowers from being knocking down.

I may have experienced a burst of romanticism, but I wanted to illustrate it in this sort of short story about what happened this morning, where the leading figures were not those two youngsters, but love and need for the Majagua flower.


3 thoughts on “Love, Need and the Majagua Flower

  • What a lovely story. Far better to use something from nature than putting chemicals on her hair. Someone I know had an alergic reaction to the chemicals in hair dye and it looked as though someone had given her two black eyes and her face swelled up. Many people have complained about the chemicals used in hair dyes but the cosmetics industry is all about making money. Give me nature anytime. Nature provides everything we need.

  • Your story starts out beautifully and draws in this reader. Since I do not live or been to Cuba, I do not know how to recognize necessity as you interpret the actions you saw. Your interpretation that it is the responsibility of the boy to buy his love hair dye and she has to dye her hair to accent or become beautiful takes away from the “romance”. Spending time with a lover, doing something as simple as exploiting the natural dye capabilities of the Majagua are part of the simple joys of being alive and using common sense. It has nothing to do with expressing or demonstrating love… I learnt too that hair dye can come from the flowers of this plant… the actions of these youthful lovers… well… that is are lovely to witness as birdsong in the morning… let’s keep it simple.

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