Back to the Roots, in the Shadows

Jorge Milanes Despaigne

A street of Pinar del Rio.  Photo:
A street of Pinar del Rio. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — “She’s an exceptionally beautiful woman, but she doesn’t do it for me anymore. I think it best to turn my life around completely,” Oliver, one of the workmates I sometimes converse with, says to me rather worried, telling me of his childhood at Isla de la Juventud, about when he moved with his parents to Pinar del Rio, where he met Sandra, the girl who fell in love with him.

Making plenty of sacrifices, he managed to enroll at the University of Havana, he tells me. Then, he suggested that his parents move to the capital, where he lives today…without Sandra.

Distance and time have made him remember the past.

“I made lots of friends while studying at the University, he recalls, letting his gaze wander past the window.

“Those memories kill me. The most beautiful ones are from Pinar del Rio.”

He goes silent.

“My first sexual experiences were very intense,” he continues. “I felt a tightness in my chest, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think. To say nothing of my heart.”

“There wasn’t a single night we didn’t go crazy. In the morning, we’d return home, exhausted.”

“Her parents never imagined how much we loved each other, because we let all the steam and madness out only in private,” he concludes, looking me straight in the face.

My friend’s interesting story made me look for the connection with the woman, who, despite her beauty, he didn’t love. How tough his life seems at the moment!

“You know something? I need to go back to see if there’s still anything of what was, I don’t want to go on wondering this way. I’m off to Pinar del Rio. What do you think of that?” He asks me.

“If there’s something worrying you this much, I think you need to go and get your feelings cleared up,” I answer.

Today, my friend asked me to call a number, to check whether the person lived where they used to. I dialed the number.

“Ask for Angel,” he tells me.

“Can I please speak with Angel?”

“He’s not in. He’s at his girlfriend’s. Do you want to leave a message?”

“No, thanks. I’ll call back later.” I hung up.

“Now I now they’re at the same place. I’ll leave for Pinar del Rio this weekend. Thank you.” My friend concludes.

“I think I’m starting to get a sense of the closet you’re in,” I reply.