Cuba, My Ra-Tim-Bum Castle

By Fabiana del Valle

HAVANA TIMES – I used to lose myself in the magical world of cartoons, every time my old Russian TV let me (it was broken a lot of the time). Imagining colors on that black and white screen was part of the challenge.

One of my favorite shows growing up was Castillo Ra-Tim-Bum, a Brazilian TV series for children and teenagers.

With a vivid imagination since a young age, I would seek refuge in each and every one of its characters, depending on my mood: Biba, Pedro, Zequiña or Nino. The latter was the one I identified with the most.

Nino, a 300-year-old boy used to live alone with his two uncles in a castle in the heart of Sao Paulo. He couldn’t go to school because of his age and the fact he was a sorcerer’s apprentice.

His friends were animals and supernatural beings, but they weren’t enough. He needed others like himself. He used magic to attract some children to visit him every day, thereby alleviating his solitude.

Young and innocent, those dreams of traveling the world seemed real to me, the desire to express limitless ideas. Growing up and maturing is inevitable. These connections I was unable to make are clearer today.

Thanks to my mobile phone top-ups from my aunt, I’ve been able to download a couple episodes. It just means using a lot of megabytes, and I can’t afford these luxuries. But I can watch them in color now, and I understand that the protagonist and I share so many things in common.

I’ve grown up within a fortress, surrounded by sea, without any way out. The “uncles” have guardianship over me, they make laws, spells to keep control from their towers. I’m living with people with supernatural thoughts and ridiculous positions that aren’t enough for me.

However, given the fact setting targets implies sacrifice, I accepted the danger of living another day in this castle that is falling to pieces every day that passes. Where corridors are dark because of blackouts and mosquitoes roam around like vampires. I’m afraid that reading or commenting on a good article might become dangerous.

I’ve been living in this castle for 39 years, there are medicine shortages, children lose the right to drink milk when they turn 7 years old, streets are full of potholes, transport is chaos, some areas don’t have drinking water, there isn’t any cooking oil, searching for staple foods is a battle and a half, lines are never-ending. Some people are lucky enough to escape, cross over the wall, putting their lives on the line for a better future.

I have a daughter. I’ve decided to change like Nino does, for her. To push myself, to make magic so that her sour bread tastes better at snack time, for the texts she writes in class not to be riddled with lies just to fulfill rules and for her not to be rejected for thinking differently.

I’ve decided to enjoy every moment of happiness I can. No matter what, because there is still some happiness left here. The warmth of a family, jokes at coffee time, shared hope in my parents’ smile, my brother’s wet kisses, my partner’s strong shoulder, my daughter’s priceless embrace.

Read more from Fabiana del Valle’s diary here.