Jorge Milanes Despaigne
HAVANA TIMES — “Jorge,” said the faint voice of a silhouette I see behind the window. It’s Lila, a friend from junior and senior high school who did a Bachelor’s in Economics (while I had studied Naval Engineering). I thought she had left for the United States.
“Jorge,” she said dejectedly, “do you have a moment?”
“Yes, of course. Come in, I’ll make some coffee,” I said.
“My life’s been like a movie. After I finished my Economics degree, I started working at Cuba-Petroleo, distributing magnetic cards with money for fuel. There, I met the father of my children. We had a girl and a boy. After three years, things weren’t going well and I had to get a divorce.”
“Then, at a gas station, I met Roberto, a good man who was special with the kids.” What Lila began to tell me then made her shudder, but she continued nonetheless: “We moved to a one-bedroom place we bought in Playa. It was small and we had to build annexes to have some privacy and space for the kids.”
She paused, sipped her coffee, but couldn’t seem to bring herself to place the cup on the saucer. I took it from her, she thanked me and went on with her story.
“We were like gold rushers. We built a living room, bathroom and another bedroom. We bought an air conditioner, furniture and cable TV. There was plenty of everything in the kitchen, we even had a heater in the living room. We built a second and third floor, where we set up a pool. Lastly, we bought a car. You can’t imagine the kind of life we had.”
She insisted all this was true, crying, while I asked myself: “where did they get all that money from?”
“Then, my husband had the idea that we should leave the country and made arrangements with a Peruvian friend who went to the gas station often. Robert left first, through a letter of invitation his friend wrote for him. Six months later, I married the Peruvian and left. I left the kids with my mother.
“I joined Roberto in Lima and we were going to pay the Peruvian half of the money and settle in an apartment, to come get the kids afterward. I came back to Cuba to get the official travel permit for the kids. I was able to get the kids out without any problems.
“We arrived at the building in Lima where Roberto and I lived in a taxi. I said goodbye to the Peruvian and went up to the apartment. I knocked several times, until a woman came out and said: ‘There’s no Roberto living here.’”
I couldn’t believe that “son of a gun” had left for Miami, leaving me and the kids out on the street in Peru.
“Not everything that shines is gold,” I said to her. “Roberto’s kindness ruined your life,” I concluded.
To be continued…