Marina and Amelia

Amelia Calzadilla, screenshot

By Fabiana del Valle

HAVANA TIMES – When Marina watched Amelia Calzadilla’s Livestream, she cried. The thought didn’t cross her mind that this young woman could be an actress masterfully performing the script of a tormented mother.

She identified with and was moved by this video. She recognized her own anguish in Amelia, this angry speech was her own.

Marina doesn’t ask for much, she’s not dreaming of the latest car, or walking along Venice’s canals. Everything is very simple for her.

Her happiness boils down to sitting in front of a canvas, spilling her ideas into a text, making a living from her work, looking after her daughter and living the “happy home dream” with her partner.

But at 39 years old, she’s learned that there’s no point in dreaming while reality unfolds everyday and traps her. Her artistic nature clouds her mind and sometimes, it’s hard to concentrate on what’s most important: surviving.

She lives in a country where you need to work and suffer the present in order to have an alleged prosperous future that never comes. She is a patient woman though, despite everything. That’s because nobody in the world has a Cuban’s patience, we’re still waiting here for a better life after 60 years.

As a mother, she has had to watch her daughter go to school without having breakfast and with breadcrumbs for her snack. She can’t stand hiding her ideas, but she has an 11-year-old daughter, she asks her to keep quiet, to learn to lie.

While the mosquitoes attack in the darkness and work to be done piles up, she thinks. What if she can’t get out of this prison, if she can’t offer better prospects for her daughter, she needs to find a way. A way to survive. She needs a change, to tighten her belt, push out her chest, grow like the fighter she must be right now.

Marina is a Cuban mother, and from the crack of dawn, she thinks about how they’re going to manage to eat that day, making magic for there to be enough rice, getting the beans to last for several meals, frying croquettes in the pan with just a splash of oil.

She has to buy overpriced medicines because she can’t find them at the drugstore. Sometimes, she doesn’t even have a pill at home to bring down a fever.

Getting pencils and notebooks for her daughter because the school can’t guarantee them. Helping with homework on political issues, which makes her sick to the stomach, but she needs her daughter to pass the grade.

So, she uses her time and sits and answers questions with the answers teachers will accept. Lying over and over again because her daughter refuses to repeat the same “grind”.

Marina is just a regular mom, like Amelia. They endure an impossible situation and despair every day. It doesn’t matter if the latter’s story is laid to rest on social media, her light dimmed by threats, reduced by fear. The message is clear:

I don’t have money to leave legally, or illegally, and I don’t need to either, because I was born in this country just like you; the civil rights I have are the same as the ones you have, and my children have the right to grow up here, to work here, to make a life here, to eat food from here, and everybody has to respect that,” said Asmelia Calzadilla

Read more from Fabiana del Valle here.