By Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIMES – I’d spent a week away from home and had asked my closest neighbors to “keep an eye out” because burglaries are common nowadays. I’m always worried when I leave the house for a few days.
When I came back, everything was as it should be, including the daily blackouts. There wasn’t any electricity and there was a kind of puddle under my refrigerator. I opened it, and the freezer didn’t have an inch of frost, of course.
It scared me a little, but I held onto the hope that this had happened because of repeated blackouts.
I just had to wait and see while I put in some tubes of minced meat I managed to get a hold of, I swept the backyard that was a mess, took a shower and when I came back, the sound of the freezer was music to my ears.
The clock struck 6 PM and I got ready to get dinner started. The electricity came back on at 4 PM, but they’re saying it’s going to be cut out again at 10 PM.
My neighbor calls over to me from her terrace, to fill me in on what’s happened these past few days. The important thing has to do with me and that’s when I prick up my ears.
It turns out somebody tried to steal some avocados from my backyard, by stretching out their arm through the fence, but they fell in and got stuck. My friend saw somebody face down from her house, but she couldn’t make out who it was, until the thief had no other choice but to call out to her husband in a pitiful voice. The embarrassed man had to come to her aid.
My neighbor told her: “Hey, fulana, we’re not young anymore to be doing these kinds of things, if you wanted an avocado, it was better to have asked for it.”
We had a good laugh. The funny thing is that this woman is somebody who is always on her high horse while ranting and raving about everyone else around her, including yours truly.
I came home from working out, night is falling when somebody knocks at my door. It’s a man who I barely know. He tells me he has three children and that they are living in dreadful conditions, that he is looking for a way to make a living doing anything, painting houses, cleaning yards, etc. Dirty and raggedly dressed, I thought he might suffer some kind of mental disorder.
“You’re my last hope,” he tells me.
“Well, I’m not Jesus Christ but tell me.”
“I’m ashamed to ask you this, but you wouldn’t have something to help me feed my children?”
“Wait, I can give you a little bit of rice, beans and a few avocadoes.”
“No, no, I have rice and beans, I need a little bit of meat, some minced meat or a croquette, you know…”
“No, what?, I’m sorry.”
“OK OK, given me some small avocadoes at least.”
I leave him at the door, I close the door, come back, give them to him and he leaves without saying thank you and I’m left there stunned. Was he telling me the truth and was he really in a tough spot with real children or was it just to “screw me over”? Does he think he’s crafty and clever and he saw my idiot face when the only thing I did was feel for his children?
I’m not sure. Anyway, I’m sorry, but I wasn’t going to give him the minced meat I have. I start thinking about how hard life has become, that you need to curb your generosity because if you don’t, you’ll get eaten alive. Like a certain natural law philosopher once said, “Man is a wolf to another man”. I have no doubt anymore, he “screwed me over”.
This business with the guy has been getting to me for a while. My ego makes my blood boil, I have to learn to be more humble. I decide to take a shower, eat and as there isn’t anything interesting on TV, I sit down and play a bit of chess on a mobile app until… pow! blackout.
I’m not tired and I go out to the front door to talk to my neighbors, to kill a few hours while sleep comes to me because it’s a hot night and I’ll also forget about the incident with the mooch, plus I don’t have to work tomorrow.
I ask one of them about the blackouts recently and he tells me they’ve gotten better, that at least they are now sticking to the blackout schedule, so we can at least plan. Bah, the level of resignation among Cubans is so high that I’m left in shock, I’ve always had a low tolerance for abuse. It’s best I don’t ask any more questions.
Luckily, the electricity comes back on, it’s nearly midnight and I’m all sweaty. I shower, drink some water, put on the fan and it takes me a little while to fall asleep. I can’t get that guy out of my head. “Humility Pedrito, humility, you have to know how to lose,” I tell myself…