My Father

By Osmel Almaguer

My father is a lovely person: open, supportive, intelligent, sincere, and possessor of countless other human virtues. Nonetheless, he has one defect that overshadows the rest; he gets angry too easily, to the point of verbally attacking anyone who is contradicting him at that moment.

For this reason, my father lives alone. My sister left home and went to live with my mother who divorced him about 19 years ago.

I’m the only one left with him, although to tell the truth I couldn’t live under the same roof either. Because of this and thanks to his help, I built my own house right beside his. I spent my first 25 years with him, until that day in which we fought because he wanted to rule over every detail of my life, up to and including the room in which I and my girlfriend slept.

Since I didn’t give in, he threatened to hit me and said that if I wanted to continue living in his house I would have to follow all of his orders. I, who have always rejected everything that has to do with violence and with impositions, gathered up what I could and left to join my mother.

My mother’s apartment is very small, and so I soon returned to my father’s house, under the condition that I would move as soon as possible to a house that I would build on one side of his. This is an incredibly difficult undertaking for a young person in today’s Cuba. Nevertheless, I succeeded.

Although his character has caused him to lose many important things in life, my father has improved very little. At times I think that he likes the way he is, although I’m sure that he also suffers and has regrets.
When I was a boy, he would tell me that my sister, my mother and I were the reason that he stayed in the capital, since the rest of his family lived in Holguin.

Who knows whether his way of being is due to the 25 years that he spent in the army, where he achieved high military rank and had important responsibilities. There, it’s true that orders are not to be discussed.
He was in the field artillery unit and spent his last years of work teaching until he was unexpectedly retired when the Special Period economic crisis arrived in the early 90’s, which was 13 years before he was officially due for retirement.

Another factor that could explain his behavior was his dark childhood, which at times he tells us about with his gaze as if he were still in Holguin, his native province.

To be continued…