Jorge Milanes Despaigne
Alberto Garrandes is a Cuban writer who has earned prestige at the national level and even in other countries. I met him years ago just minutes before he left on a bus to attend a book fair in Holguin, where he had been invited as a guest.
On that occasion the task of bidding him farewell fell on me after an incident with a relative of the late revolutionary leader Commander Juan Almeida. This man, visibly inexperienced with such contacts, had come to the bus pick-up area with an air of “yes I can” and he almost passed over the writer while looking for seats for some of his friends.
After the incident, Garrandes, in an act that most would consider justifiable, had said that he wasn’t going to get on the bus. And my colleagues and I had to work hard to convince him to step on.
I don’t remember exactly when we ran into each other again, but over time we became friends and would always recall that incident that turned out to be the reason for our initial conversation.
Later I got an invitation to come to his house for some coffee, which he prepares in a unique way for several reasons: he mixes it with liquors, cream and spices.
He lives with his wife, Elsita, who’s a lovely woman filled with an exuberant spirituality that’s contagious even to those who barely know her. There’s also Albert, his only son, a young pianist who’s the pride of his parents and plays works that harmonize the home’s environment, making it exceptionally cultured.
But like his work, Garrandes the person inspires respect. Maybe that’s why some people feel self-conscious when seeing him. Perhaps it’s only prejudice, because he’s not the monster that the general public mistakenly cast writers to be.
On the contrary, he’s a friendly, responsive, intelligent and simple man who can converse on basic topics as well as weighty subjects.
He welcomed me for my previously arranged visit, because he likes being an excellent host and getting away from his endless hours at the computer in his study, so that he can forget time and enter together in a reality that seems more like fantasy.