Instead, I had a small celebration with a few friends. It was something very modest, in line with what I could afford.
I said “small” because only three people attended, but I didn’t use the word “only” to describe the number. This wasn’t because it seemed like a small number of guests, but because it’s customary among Cubans to celebrate birthdays with lots of people.
On these occasions there are almost always family members there, close and distant relatives, as well as friends, coworkers, neighbors and one or two others who manage to slip in for a piece of cake and a swig of rum.
It was my choice to surround myself with only a few friends…real friends. This is why I consider myself lucky. Very few people can bring together three friends on the same occasion. In fact, very few people can count on the friendship of three people in a lifetime.
I pulled together the little bit of money I had and spent it all on a side of pork. All together it came to six pounds, which we barbecued. My friends brought the drink. There was vodka, Cuban rum and soda; there was also cake, music, yuca and fruit.
My father took care of organizing everything. He talked with me and my friends and we all had a great time. At the end of the night I reminded him of the proposal he had made two days earlier: “Osme, there’s a little money. I had planned to buy a bottle of rum for us to drink here, but given the situation, if you want, I can give you the money and we can not do anything.”
“Among so many needs, the only thing left for us is to celebrate the good things that we still have: family, friends, health and life itself,” I said, pleased to have chosen to celebrate my arrival into this world.