Irina Pino

Foto: Juan Suarez
Foto: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES – While I was studying at the Technical Institute for Hotel and Tourism Services, a terrible accusation was leveled at me: I was accused me of being a prostitute – and not just any prostitute, but one who sold their favors to foreigners.

That was a devastating lie for a young girl of 21 to cope with, and led to my requesting to leave that school. This in turn brought on a time of depression, as I dealt with the hatred and similar negative feelings of those supposed “educators” who had contributed to my desertion.

The truth was all too simple to believe it. I had befriended a foreigner residing in Cuba, who frequented the Hotel Vedado where I was doing my training.

They wanted me to take some medical exams to determine if I had any type of sexually transmitted disease. That was the culmination of that infamy. Obviously I didn’t want to continue in that school.

During the 1980s there were so many restrictions. A woman who had a relationship with foreigners was immediately classified as a prostitute, Cubans couldn’t enter hard currency stores and possessing dollars was illegal.

There followed a chain of incomprehension on the part of my parents, who didn’t believe my story either. I became a timid and introspective person, who was at the same time easy to deceive.

But in the midst of such a difficult setback in this stage of my existence, there was someone who approached me and opened me up to a wondrous slice of this life: to enjoy literature, and to go out in search of words to shape with my own hands.

I began to write a diary; poetry flooded into my cracks; and those scabs began to heal – although never closing completely. I had written in some measure since I was 14, but now the enticement of writing intensified until it formed a part of my being, like an extension of myself. From that time on I never stopped.

I followed that “winding road” without looking back.

Now, in this reflection looking back, I can see that I never could have been a good restaurant employee: not because I wish to disparage that worthy form of work, but in the sense that I wasn’t made to carry the “empty tray”. Instead, I have this sublime curse. I now understand that words are the kingdom where I can best reign, because we are all made for something, each of us has a mission in this world.

Perhaps journalism will offer me some monetary reward and I don’t doubt that it also may offer me great joy and bridges of friendship. But what I’m most certain of is that I won’t abandon writing for other freedoms.

Real liberty lies in words: to them I am in debt, and before them I bow down and promise to be true to the act of writing as the best alchemy for expressing ideas and feelings that may be useful for others.



Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

36 thoughts on “The Lie that Led to My Calling

  • Hahaha your comments are becoming more and more personal. If I want to read some good fiction I read the Bible, but thank you anyways.

    ? Cuba que linda es Cuba, quien la defiende la quiere más ?

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