COVID, Solitude, Death

By Rosa Martinez

A barrio in Guantanamo, Cuba. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES – When you least imagine it, when people were trying to be as careful as they could, and after looming here and there, the new Coronavirus finally reached our area.

Without mercy, without any regard for families’ and friends’ prayers and pleas, without bearing in mind the physical beauty that brimmed in the sick woman and all the resources that went into looking after her, SARS-CoV-2 viciously murdered Loida, a neighbor who was only 40 years old.

When I learned that there were positive cases in the home with the number 114 on the door, I quickly went to offer them my help with anything they might need: read here, an errand, finding some medicine, taking a tea, anything.

I was especially worried because these people hadn’t been in the neighborhood very long and I know that they still don’t get on very well with the other neighbors.

One of the gossips in our area never gets tired of saying that they think they don’t need anyone because they have money. I personally think that if this were true, they wouldn’t have come to this barrio where there is plenty of mud and dust, depending on the weather. Although to be frank, this is one of the best places for business…

Anyway, I went to house no.114 and called almost from the street.

Something strange happened, Alberto (Loida’s father) was the one to answer, who I had rarely seen before because he was always working.

Don’t come in,” he said quietly, “we’ve all tested positive with the rapid test and we’re waiting for our PCR results.”

Yes, I know, that’s why I’m here, in case I can help with anything, even if it’s just to look for some medicinal plants,” I replied.

He smiled and nodded with his head.

I was able to go a couple more times, first with a bit of broth for Loida (who was who I got on the most with), as I heard that she didn’t want to or couldn’t stomach anything. Then, I took a tea made with several plants, prepared by my mother’s magical hands.

My neighbor managed to try the broth, but by the time the infusion came, it was already too late. Loidita had suddenly passed away in the early morning, in a sudden fit of shortness of breath.

After many days, when I thought the time was right or when I thought it could be, I went to talk to the deceased woman’s mother.

In the doorway, keeping our distance, I managed to get a few words out of her.

She cried a lot, and the only thing I could do was wait. But after the crying came a sense of calm, an unforgettable conversation, and an awful confession.

Rosa,” she told me, “it’s been very tough. Losing a child is a heartbreaking experience, which I wouldn’t even wish upon my worst enemy. But if seeing my only daughter die was painful, it was even sadder to feel rejected by the neighbors. It was horrible to feel Death looming above our house, but the solitude this damned virus brought us was even worse.”

To read more by Rosa Martinez click here.

2 thoughts on “COVID, Solitude, Death

  • Politicians in power in all countries around the world have tried to minimize if not cover up COVID statistics in their country. The difference between most countries around the world and Cuba is an independent press. Florida’s governor in the US has certainly tried to avoid sharing the travesty of his the virus in his state but media outlets have the ability to fact check Florida statistics and hold the wanna-be Trump governor to a higher standard. In Cuba, whatever statistics you read about published by the Castro dictatorship, you can be sure are at least double if not triple in their severity.

  • How good that you went and showed them you cared. This is beautifully told, we hear so little about what’s happening in Cuba. Although a sad story I was glad to read it. Thank you Rosa.

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