Cuba Between Love and Hate

Rosa Martínez

Havana bus stop. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — Rude behavior is becoming more and more common in our homes, streets and neighborhoods. I don’t know whether this is because the economic problems of Cubans today is expressing itself as mistreatment, yelling, offensive gestures – as aggressiveness, in short – or something else.

Only yesterday I witnessed an accident that proved shameful not only for the victim but anyone who had the misfortune of seeing it.

It was just past seven in the morning and, as usual, I was running to get to my first class on time.

A rather slovenly young woman was in as much or more of a rush than I, running next to me at breakneck speed. Apparently, we were heading in the same direction. Try as I might, I could not keep up with her – her youth and slenderness gave her a clear advantage.

Before getting to the bus-stop (our common destination), the girl with the angry eyes suffered an accident.

Before this happened, I had managed to get a clear view of her face, a face which, though young and full of life, was marked by the countless worries the woman shouldered.

I had made a quick mental picture of her life. I imagined her as a working mother, like myself, who was perhaps single. I fancied she had more than one child, and that one of them was maybe rather sickly.

Her salary, I thought, was probably as low as mine – her clothing looked faded and out of style.

Like 95 percent of Cuban women who work or not, she must wrack her brains trying to figure out how to put food on the table every day.

She probably even hates her job but can’t quit because no one supports her – perhaps she has to deal with an arrogant and unfair boss also.

She must be ill, I said to myself, because, looking at her a second time, I could tell her face was pale. Maybe she isn’t eating well because of severe stress in her life.

I was thinking all of this when a kid who was about 5 years old ran into the young woman and made her fall noisily, making me come to.

A man and I quickly went in her aid. She’d fallen on one of her legs and found it difficult to get up on her own.

I was about to get the hair out of her face when she gave the kid on the ground a defiant look and said to him: “You damn mangy dog! You almost killed me!”

All my thoughts about the lanky girl quickly vanished into thin air. I was no longer interested to know why she looked so sad. No problem, concern or family situation justified saying such hateful things to the child, whose only crime had been to run carelessly on the sidewalk.

2 thoughts on “Cuba Between Love and Hate

  • “In armies, navies, cities, or families–in nature herself–nothing more relaxes good order than misery.” …Herman Melville, from “Benito Cereno”

  • Where you able to say anything to her?

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