HAVANA TIMES — My friend Paula wrote me from the United States. “People are strange here, it’s not like down there” she told me. “Where we live, people are really snobbish. No one even looks at anyone. To many, we’re just a bunch of dirty immigrants. Everything costs money, even laughter. I regret having made the decision to move here, but, as you know, there are other reasons for being here. I only hope that, in time, we manage to adapt.”
“The fact of the matter is that things are tough for us here. We never stop thinking about Cuba. Miladis [her partner] tells me she wants to go back to Havana every weekend. She’s always saying that, and we start to cry together. Last Friday, when she got out of work, we had to go to the doctor. According to the doctor who saw her, she has a serious urinary infection. She works as a cashier at a market and can barely go to the bathroom – if there are people waiting in line, she can’t move from the spot. She’s getting paid well, but the money is barely enough to live on. I’m looking for a job. I hope to be able to find something next week.”
Here’s the part in which some commentators will start to tear my friend apart. “How could she regret having left Cuba? Why does she not go back there, where no one knows what real work is like?” Others will surely say that there are snobbish people or people who feel superior to others, because of their social standing, everywhere. Others will say that this business of not being able to go the bathroom for number one or two is a lie. “Of course everything costs money. Did you think things would fall from the sky? You have to work 12 hours a day to have what you want to have.” And one can’t always get what one wants, I assume.
The fact of the matter is that there will always be people who agree with my friend and another group of people who disagree with her comments.
The things Paula describes in her emails make me think about how I would do in case I decided to leave the country.
Bearing in mind I am 40 years old, suffer from generalized osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and cervical problems (if I do any lifting, it cause me so much pain that I had to lie down in bed), I wonder what a person like me who, despite wanting to work, is unable to do certain things, would do there.
Commentators will probably now skin me alive.
They will share their ideas and concerns, enumerate the innumerable jobs I could do. Someone will call me an idiot, and I will smile and think to myself: “poor me.” Many think I live in the worst country in the world, where there is bad education, an awful health system, and a long list of etceteras (which are totally untrue).
The truth is that everything in life depends on circumstances. You should know that, many a time, I’ve gone to the doctor’s and been treated marvelously. When I’ve written about things that are wrong, I’ve done so because I believe criticism is due, but my criticisms by no means imply that things are dreadful every single time we go to the hospital or get on a bus. Generally speaking, I have written only about things I consider wrong, sharing my views. I also try to get the word out. I assume it would be very boring to write about the positive things that often happen to me. The world wants to know all of the rotten things that flourish in our country, not the good things. After all, anything positive people write about Cuba is a lie, isn’t it?