By Paula Henriquez

Photo: Alejandro Arce

HAVANA TIMES – I wake up to make breakfast, just like I do every morning. My daughter waits for it asleep, until I bring it to her bed. My husband helps me get things ready. It’s a normal day, another working and school day.

It doesn’t take us too long to get ready. It’s a routine we’ve got down, movements that have been studied and if we follow them like machines, there’s no reason why it should take us so long. The walk to school is beautiful; the green trees, multicolor flowers, birds chirping and even squirrels that seem happy. It doesn’t take very long to get there either; it’s in quite a remote place, but it’s beautiful and green.

My husband goes his way and I go mine. He likes to walk to work. He works in a workshop, it’s far, but he makes the most of it to get some exercise in. I wait for the bus. One day, I’ll be able to walk there, I think.

Routine follows me everywhere at work. Following regulations, respecting spaces, consulting decisions, it’s part of every person in the department’s responsibility. There’s no time to lose. It’s important to not let dates get away from us, that we don’t forget events, that we write emails, that we go to meetings and get all the work we’re supposed to do done in our day.

Lunch sneaks up on us. We meet in a small room, we eat lunch, have coffee, laugh and chat. It’s the only time in the day when we can be ourselves.

Then, we have to get back to work. Our desks are waiting for us. Writing emails, going to meetings, checking dates and consulting decisions are on our to-do-list again, in the afternoon this time. There’s no time to lose.

The afternoons aren’t any different. Getting the bus back, going back to the beautiful and leafy place where I left my daughter in the morning, then, heading back home. These are our late-afternoon tasks. At home, I cook, do the chores… talking to my girl and my husband about our day is essential before ending the day.

Lying down in bed, I think about how much I’d like to take some time off. Coming and going is hard, respecting regulations, remembering dates and going to meetings too. It’ll start all over again tomorrow, I think to myself… and I fall asleep.

I wake up… in a startle… the sun is already up. I overslept! I forgot to set the alarm. Then, I remember… I haven’t been working for over a month. It’s been more than a month since my daughter hasn’t gone to school, and my husband to work. I sit up in bed. What a strange dream! It feels like a lifetime ago, I think.

That’s when I miss living the life in this dream, not because I’m at home with my family, but because being at home means that things aren’t going all too well.

We have a different routine now. I get up and get ready for the new day. I don’t have any other choice, I tell myself. I begin the day with this hope that everything will go back to how it was before… no! Better than before. I begin my day longing for the future.


Paula Henriquez

Paula Henriquez: Since childhood I have been told I should be careful what I say in public. "Think before you speak, especially in front of others," my mother would say, and it was more of a plea than a scolding. Even today I hear her and I obey her, just that I do not speak, I write. Letters and words are my escape, my exit and daily catharsis, which printed on paper, revive me. And this picture is my refuge.

4 thoughts on “Yearning for the Future

  • Whereas I think you are correct Kenneth, I believe that wishes for a better future for an ever increasing number of people in a world of limited resources is an impossible equation.

  • Your description of everyday life is so similar to many of us in other countries. It is the same in Canada, too. We all wish – in some way – for the “good old days”, but the title of your diary entry rings true everywhere. We want a future that is better than our present!

  • The world’s dream!

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