How I Spent New Year’s

Erasmo Calzadilla

The Alamar housing projects. Photo:Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — During these holiday seasons, I usually pick myself up and hide. I don’t like all the celebrating, and I find it exasperating to hear the squealing cries of pain made by pigs when they’re stabbed. The environment of joyfulness ends up making me sad.

This is why I look for a way to escape or lock myself away from it all. That was what I tried this year, not alone, but with my “girls” (one who’s flesh and blood and the other whose last name is Pentium). Imprisoning myself with them is usually quite pleasant.

But I didn’t completely succeed.

Decades ago, in my old neighborhood and here in Alamar, residents would look forward to the January 1 anniversary of the triumph of the revolution in a community setting that was relatively nice. But since then the situation has changed considerably.

On December 31, people stay at home with their friends, family members and neighbors. Meanwhile it’s the “street guys” in the neighborhood who hog the places that were formerly used by area Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR).

The guys in the building where I’m living, and others in the area, blast their reggaeton as loud as they want and whenever they get a chance. The volume is so high that it won’t let you hear anything, not even inside your own home.

In such cases, I usually assume that there’s no other choice but to shut myself up in a room, which is what I did this time, while also taking advantage of the cooler weather. But my partner’s mother (who we live with) couldn’t resign herself to not do anything.

My partner’s mother is a wonderful woman who I love and respect. I delight in pleasing her and trying to make her feel good. She gets excited waiting for the end of the year together with her family and watching the special TV programs.

However I could see her grief and anguish as she realized that — once again — her dream was going to be ruined (she could barely hear her television programs and her daughter and I were sealed up in a backroom).

Then, in a fit of militancy and disconcertion, the mother adjusted her slacks and prepared to confront the guys (who were drinking and already half drunk) to get them to turn down their music. As she put it: “They can’t keep bothering everybody like that. I have 500 horses stampeding inside me,” said that brave soul.

That was when we had to come out of our warm enclosure to try to convince her that she shouldn’t bump heads with them, that this wasn’t the right time, etc.

I began to prepare myself psychologically because I could see that New Years was starting to get complicated.

But things tapered off. We managed to reassure her, and after a little while — overcome but not convinced — she went and laid down. Then we all tried to go to sleep, while those guys remained outside partying.