By Fabiana del Valle
HAVANA TIMES – “Dazed and exhausted…” That’s how Yosvany feels this morning, although jealousy has nothing to do with it. He was woken by the voice of Checo Acosta and Cuco barking in the junk room.
He rolls around in the sheets, it’s early and he would have liked to have slept in a little longer. The dog barks nosing around the boxes where parts of old electrical appliances are kept. He surely discovered a mouse. Tonight, Yosvany will put out the mouse trap again to see if he can trap it.
From the living room, his wife’s grandmother grabs hold of the dog. This only infuriates the animal even more, who doesn’t seem to give up on his task of hunting the crafty rodent, who had already hidden itself behind one of the other boxes.
“… boooy, bring me the broken glass,” Checo almost cries out in the refrain.
Yamiiila, bring me the coffee to see if I can get out of this bed, he thinks.
The smell of the hot drink seeps in through the half-closed door, it’s a shame that it comes in with the uneasy sounds.
To tell the truth, waking up every day in this house is normally hell for Yosvany and Yamila. The old woman wakes up early, turns on the mp3 player and blasts it all the way up, letting the dog in and inviting all of the neighbors round for coffee.
Sometimes, when they open their eyes, they see her standing quietly in front of their bedroom door. Lucky Yosvany doesn’t sleep naked! Although he’s thought of doing this to see if the woman learns to respect his privacy, but the manners his parents instilled in him win out. You need to respect your elders!
When Yamila’s grandmother told her for them to go and live with her, they didn’t think about the consequences. It turns out looking after an old woman is hard work but looking after Maria is a heroic feat.
They can’t forget their clothes in the bathroom because they run the risk of the grandmother confusing them with toilet paper. The few resources they manage to get a hold of, she gives them away without asking where they got them or how much they cost.
The house is always full of neighbors and relatives who come at the weirdest hours, and they need to be given a cup of coffee. Even dinner sometimes. We’re in Cuba, why don’t they give a heads up? Now, what do we do? But they carry on sunken in their desperation.
The worst thing is that there’s no going back. There are days when Yosvany thinks that it’s better to live in the room he has at his parents’ house. But nobody wants to look after Maria and they can’t leave her alone. All Yamila’s family knew what the young couple were getting themselves into and nobody told them.
After his coffee and first cigarette in the morning, Yosvany tries to see things in a better light and ignore the blasting mp3 player or the gossipy neighbor’s voice who has come to have the coffee that Yamila’s just strained.
But the household chores are just as worrying. The evasive mice that you never end up catching, the water that hasn’t come in for weeks, cigarettes that can’t be found anywhere and he can’t afford to buy them either. Costs are going up every day and he has no idea what they’re going to “invent” to get money and buy the basics they need to survive another day.
At least he has another story today to tell his parents and sister, they can laugh a little together about Maria’s mischief and that way, seasoned with humor, his problems become easier to swallow. It’s time to wake up. He puts his feet on the floor and takes a deep breath out of the bed.
A Mexican corrido can be heard on the mp3 player, something about human traffickers and desperate people trying to cross the border.