Nightmare in May

By Irina Echarry

A Cicada in the Cuban Spring
A Cicada in the Cuban Spring

It’s already May. In Cuba spring arrives in May. The rain (which is usually abundant) gives the month a peculiar scent: wet soil and budding flowers mix to offer us their fragrances.

I have not had the opportunity to confirm whether the “scent of May” exists in other parts of the world, but I am so accustomed to it that I miss it. Nearly half of May has passed and I have yet to detect it.

Last night I had a strange dream, more like a nightmare. I was walking in Alamar, the Havana suburb where I live, and along my path all the tress and plants were disappearing. There were people with chain saws cutting them at the trunk and cranes carrying them off immediately before they could touch the ground and germinate again.

May is Cuba’s Springtime
May is Cuba’s Springtime

Children were pulling up plants: “death to the weeds,” they were saying, even though it was chamomile, aloe and oregano. I explained to them that what they were doing was wrong because those plants have curative properties. They didn’t listen. On the contrary, moving like robots they piled up the plants and set them on fire.

Butterflies flew off en masse and songbirds were drowned out by the noise of the saws and the trucks.

I began to scream. I stood in front of the cranes and in front of the trucks that transported the downed trees (many pulled up by the roots) in an attempt to stop them.

 Butterflies in the Cuban Spring
Butterflies in the Cuban Spring

I looked at the desolate landscape. It looked as though a bomb had fallen on the neighborhood, like we had suffered a devastating war. And it was true, foolishness is a dangerous bomb.

I figured the end was near. But through the smoke I could see a Flamboyant tree dodging from side to side to save itself. Among its branches was a tiny one with orange flowers.

When the joy of that sight awakened me, I quickly ran outside.

Everything was in order. I walked a while enjoying the morning. I had the sensation of having watched a science fiction movie, which is what the torment of no vegetation would be like.

I could see a Flamboyant tree dodging from side to side to save itself.
I could see a Flamboyant tree dodging from side to side to save itself.

There have been a lot of buildings erected in Alamar, but luckily there is also an abundance of trees. What has happened in other neighborhoods has not happened here yet. Sometimes trees are cut down because they block views or because they could cause damage during a hurricane.

May is already here, I thought, my birth month. I will calmly await the “scent of May” and the gift of orange flowers from a Flamboyant tree.

Irina Echarry

Irina Echarry: I enjoy reading, going to the movies and spending time with my friends. Many of the people I love are dead, or are no longer in Cuba. I will do my best to transmit my thoughts, ideas or worries via these pages so you can get to know me. I will give an idea of my age, since it helps explain certain things. I’m over thirty-five, and I think that’s enough information. I don’t have any children yet, or nieces or nephews. There are days when I transform myself into a child with no age at all in order to see life from another angle. It helps me break the monotony and survive in this strange world.

One thought on “Nightmare in May

  • muy importante ese tema para todos, aunque a veces no pensemos mucho en lo árboles, nos dejemos llevar por la política u otros temas del diario. Gracias por compartir tus sueños y tus insectos

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