Maria Matienzo Puerto
I’ve never inherited anything. No one seems to remember me when the time comes to die, when they have to sign a paper willing something over to someone else. So, I don’t have a house, I don’t have car and I don’t have any money. All I have is myself. That might seem pretty sad if you were to look at it that way, without anything else.
My life shifts between images of a backpack on my shoulder, living in various apartments, staying over in people’s homes and public transportation. Yet, despite all that, I frequently feel happy.
Example: getting on a guagua (as we call buses here), paying the fare and interacting with people is always an adventure.
There are those who get on filled with the fear that they’re going to be pickpocketed, with the fear that someone will step on them and get their shoes or clothes dirty because they’re all dressed up and on the way to work or an appointment. Then too, some women —almost all of them— get on the bus with the fear that some creep will start grinding all over them.
I’m not praising public transportation. Transportation here has never ceased being atrocious. Cuban buses don’t maintain regularity in their circulation, which is to say that you can see two buses go by in ten minutes just as well as wait an hour between them.
Without counting the mistreatment and abuse by the drivers, or by their company when you try to lodge some complaint, I could generate a laundry list of grievances.
I could point to how the fare should be forty cents every time you get on a bus, but since you can never find someone to give you change, this means dropping whatever you have into the box.
Or I could gripe about how that the number of riders is simply indescribable. The buses are packed with people returning home from work tired. Everyone’s jammed together, be they an engineer or a teacher, a doctor or a bricklayer. All of them share the same problem: getting back to their house.
Because in this dreamed of egalitarianism, no one —except the select— has any other means of getting around. These select ones are those who through their job, a relative abroad or inheritance have been able to acquire a car, a motorcycle or a bike.
And that brings me back to the point where I started: inheritance.
When the testament is read among the family members, the worst thing happens.
Everlasting hatred arises. This can happen in any part of the world, but here on this island these things create shame. Not like the shame that someone has for being the relative a criminal or an indigent, but a shame that stings – that wounds.
Perhaps in other places they try to distribute the wealth by handing out bread and fish, like Jesus Christ did. But what saddens me here is the spectacle of what happens when one has to contemplate the distribution of poverty.