Jorge Milanes Despaigne
HAVANA TIMES — “I have a secret I can’t tell anyone.” Saying this, Katy looks at my niece – her friend – knowingly. They are both 10.
“What is it?” asks Carla, trying to clear up the mystery.
“No, I can’t. He made swear I wouldn’t say anything.”
As though the doll she is holding with her small hands were the love of her life, she kisses it on the mouth.
The two meet in the backyard to play often. While they talk, they don’t realize I can hear them in the patio, where I am washing my sneakers.
“If you tell me your secret, I’ll tell you mine,” Carla suggests, but Katy has her doubts. Seeing that she has found a crack she can slip through to her friend’s intimacy, she insists:
“Tell me, tell me!” she says, using a more persuasive tone.
“I…have a boyfriend,” she replies in a low tone of voice and with some fear, like someone getting something big off their chests, and at the same time feeling they have exposed themself to danger.
“His name is Raul,” she adds.
“Who is Raul, a kid from your class or your neighborhood?”
En ese momento trato de oírles, disimuladamente. Ellas piensan que no estoy al tanto de la conversación y continúan hablando con menos discreción:
I make an effort to listen in, on the sly. They think I am not paying attention to the conversation and continue speaking less discretely.
“No, girl, Raul works with my mom. He works in an audio room. He kisses me, touches me, plays music and videos for me, and lends me his computer for me to play.”
Migdalia, her mom, takes the child to work with her on school break because she doesn’t trust anyone enough to look after her. The mention of the boyfriend struck me as odd. Children tend to feel attracted to teachers, siblings, artists or idols they identify with…but I felt something strange on hearing that confession. Her mother does everything to look after her little girl, but things aren’t what they seem. She is unaware of what’s going on.
“And when did you become his girlfriend?” Carla asks.
“When my mom took me to work the first time.”
Hearing that answer made me feel very uncomfortable. I phoned Migdalia, asked her to come over and told her the gist of what I had just heard. I also asked her to create an atmosphere that would allow us to gather more information on the situation. The little girl was surprised to see her, but her mother acted as we had agreed. Then, she said to her:
“If I were a little girl like you, I would never have a 70-year-old boyfriend!”
In confidence, Katy told us everything. When she finished, her mother asked us to go with her to the police station. There we went. The investigation began immediately.
The matter was left in the hand of the authorities, but the individual in question is not in prison, owing to his advanced age. And I say to myself:
“That’s splendid! Now shameless old men don’t get what they deserve because of their age!”