Not Stopping till 120

Jorge Milanes

Havana scene. Photo: Caridad

When a foreigner comes to Cuba, perhaps they’re surprised by our happiness.  With so many needs and shortages, we still maintain a sense of joy.

When leaving the house in search of text books for my studies, at the corner I passed by an older man, tall with white hair, but whom I didn’t know.  In his face, time reflected each mark of his enjoyment, and judging by my own eyes he was about 70.

He walked slowly, but unwaveringly, and his desire to live was above what I’d call “outstanding.” Hurriedly, he tried to catch up to my gate.  He greeted me and asked, “Do you work in television?

“No, what makes you think that?” I replied.

“A few days ago I saw you at the book fair with a TV actor and later with the cameras.”

I slowed down a little to accommodate him and to better listen to him, since he seemed excited about the theme of the conversation.

“Well, I work for them, but not with them,” I responded.

“Years ago I worked for radio station CMQ, though we didn’t have today’s technology.  We broadcast many events and did wonders to entertain people.  We laughed even at our misfortunes,” he recounted, now relaxed.  “If I were young I’d go back to doing the same thing.”

When hearing him speak about his past with such enthusiasm, I asked him, “What was your job back then?”

“Studio supervisor, but don’t think I did only that. You had to do everything in those days.  In fact I was a musician, a poet and crazy for working for such a lousy wage.  We survive thanks to this humor we have, so I plan to live to 120.”

“Don’t you lose your joy for living, you’ll live longer,” he advised me, looking at me fixedly in the eyes and with one hand on my shoulder.

Then he turned away smoothly and continued walking.

One thought on “Not Stopping till 120

  • Oh, yes, the happiness and enjoyment I saw in practically all Cubans (not the poor woman behind the counter at the Havana train station, but hey) was truly astonishing and wonderful. We are so miserable in the UK in comparison – self-centred, self-important, concentrating on the most horrendous trivia, always whining on …

    Don’t you lose your joy for living, Cuba …

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