By Fabiana del Valle
HAVANA TIMES – My brother has his refuge. This place he goes back to every day, the space that shelters him when things aren’t going well.
When we were teenagers, my father called this place the “bear’s den”. Clothes, shoes, wires hanging off walls, spread out across the floor and fights with mom who demanded order amidst that never-ending chaos.
That young kid has grown up now, but his passion for fixing things remains intact. Every time I go into his room, I feel like I’m in an operating room, the kind where everything is upside down.
He knows where every piece goes, my brother has a great gift. He can make magic with few working tools and in the worst conditions, just like a field doctor in war. Every day, his patients wait for him in a coma on the bed. Old radios, lamps, cellphones people no longer use. All thrown out by their former owners and donated for parts.
His talent has got us out of more than one rough patch. A few years ago, I got paid for some illustrations I did for a children’s book. I bought a tablet for my daughter with that money. However, the tablet sadly stopped working before even a month was up.
I kept it but with no hopes of ever using it again, until he found it one day and could add a mouse to it. My father, who is another genius inventor, made a base for it. Now, my girl can read her books and watch those videos on YouTube that come with the Weekly Package.
My mother’s cellphone is also an adaptation, for example. My brother made a cellphone with two old ones, and it works. It can only pick up 2G, but she’s happy looking at social media, even if it is at a tortoise’s pace.
I remember the day he brought me a laptop. He told me it wouldn’t last very long but I could make use of it in the meantime, but it’s been three years since then and it’s still in perfect condition. The former owners were tired of taking it to different specialists and they gave up. They gave it to him so he could take it apart and use its pieces. They couldn’t imagine my brother was a magician who was capable of the impossible.
A few days ago, my father was given two lamps and an old radio. In two days of work, the family surgeon rebuilt the lamps, adapting them with batteries from old cellphones.
The radio ended up being a masterpiece! He not only fixed the problem with the battery, but he added a USB port. Now, my mother can listen to the music and radio shows she loves so much.
If he were to live in a country with greater opportunities to develop his talent or had money to set up his own repair business, he would smile a little wider. He wouldn’t be going grey among old parts and his cellphone wouldn’t be tied up with a wire to keep all its parts in place.
He still holds onto his hope for a better future, but the years pass by, and his reality is the same. His friends “talk about disenchantment, take to the sea in silence and leave like fish,” like the Carlos Varela song goes.
Hiding in his refuge, my brother spills his “black tears” amid failed projects and disappointments.