By Irina Echarry
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.
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.
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.
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.