Por Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIMES – I got the phone call from the hospital that morning. The mother’s excited voice told me, “Everything went well, the girl is beautiful, she looks just like you,” and I had her in my arms just a few hours later.
With the apprehension of a newbie that doesn’t want to hurt the baby I was holding and gazing at as she raised up her eyes and seemed to hold my gaze, the emotion welled my eyes and a small single tear trickled down my cheek.
A beautiful girl, white as snow, with red lips and thick hair. Her hands were half-open, just like her eyes.
I was very afraid, it’s hard to be a father and even more so in a country with shortages and hardship. I’ve been there ever since, imperfect, but a present father who longs to give her the best and has been blessed by God with a healthy, beautiful, intelligent daughter with a good heart.
A girl who barely asks anything from her father in material terms. But every time we go out, I have a “budget”. That’s the way it’s been since she was very young, “today we have X amount,” I tell her, and she decides how to spend it, with some advice from me. Once the money runs out, she’s content or maybe resigned, that’s the way I’ve raised her. Her father isn’t rich, nor does he have relatives living abroad.
It pains me because while I think we shouldn’t give our children absolutely everything, or satisfy their every whim and fancy, it really hurts me that I can’t meet all of her natural desires of candy, day trips and presents.
I was a child too, so I remember my childhood desires and dreams that I had to postpone, until they disappeared as an adult.
She’s also a mentally healthy girl, who doesn’t ask for anything but longs for everything deep down.
I’ve watched her grow and mature every week, I’ve rediscovered her again and again with the things she thinks, wants to know, says and I’m concerned. There isn’t a time that goes by that I see her and she tells me about her grand dream, her grand life project when she’s an adult.
She’s always had excellent grades, without trying. Her IQ is high, she has photographic memory, she learned to play chess at just 4 years old.
I love her sense of humor, she always jokes about with me. But sometimes she is possessive and jealous. If a woman draws near, she studies my reaction, calls me out, she tells me, “Pedro Pablo, I know you as if I gave birth to you,” and I can’t help but laugh.
However, it’s been a while now that she hasn’t talked to me about studying neurosurgery or becoming a soprano opera singer like she used to a couple of years ago. Her dream, her life project now, is different.
“When I leave here one day, I’m going to send you things and give you lots of presents, you’re never going to need anything papa and I’ll look after you when you’re an old man.”
We bid each other farewell like we always do, a long hug, soul to soul. I take her soft and exquisite perfume with me as I draw away, knowing sadly that she is watching me from her balcony.
I turn my head to say goodbye. I think about her grand life project which is just leaving this country with no future.
She’s not even thirteen years old yet.
That pains me.