My Birthday

By Osmel Almaguer

Havana balcony, photo: Caridad
Havana balcony, photo: Caridad

This past August 24 I turned thirty. There wasn’t a party though, not even a dinner in a restaurant; I just had a bit of baked pork to celebrate.

Days earlier, I had hoped of possibly organizing at least a small buffet for the visitors I would have by, but not even that was feasible, since it ended up that I was short on cash.

Yet for me it was important to try, because for more than twenty years each August 24 had always been a sad occasion at home, due to the sour financial situation.

Despite the material problems, I can’t deny that this time it went real well, because though my the family and friends are grappling with the same crisis – which is now a world crisis – there are always people who show up and, with a little more openness, make the day a happy one for you.

Also, all those calls I received throughout the day filled me with a sense of satisfaction, because there’s nothing more important than human warmth.

Not everybody is in the same economic situation in Cuba, though most households do not have access to all their staples; there are those who – within certain limits – at least have sufficient money to throw a more or less elaborate party.

This is especially true of those who work with merchandise and are involved in corruption, or those who work directly with tourists.

Then too, some people receive assistance from their relatives abroad, and other people are paid sky-high salaries and/or considerable incentive pay in CUCs (hard currency).

In the case of my family, we share two characteristics that have made us economically poor throughout our most recent history: honesty and little inclination for business.

However, in Cuba the word “business” can be somewhat complicated because it is often associated with illegal or under-the-table dealings; however, I’m not referring to that sense, but rather to its classic definition.


Osmel Almaguer:Until recently I would to identify myself as a poet, a cultural promoter and a university student. Now that my notions on poetry have changed slightly, that I got a new job, and that I have finished my studies, I’m forced to ask myself: Am I a different person? In our introductions, we usually mention our social status instead of looking within ourselves for those characteristics that define us as unique and special. The fact that I’m scared of spiders, that I’ve never learned to dance, that I get upset over the simplest things, that culminating moments excite me, that I’m a perfectionist, composed but impulsive, childish but antiquated: these are clues that lead to who I truly am.

One thought on “My Birthday

  • Dear Osmel,

    Omar Khayyam just called. He was wondering who is going to write the Cuban Rubaiyat?

    Happy Birthday!

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