HAVANA TIMES — Being a millionaire is the dream of many, I can’t say that it hasn’t been my own too. Some children fantasize about having a lot of money to take water and food to starving children in exploited Africa; others thought about helping those most in need on the planet, like for example about investing in the research for a cure for many different life-threatening diseases.
But, when people grow up, their dreams change and being a millionaire is no longer associated with the idea of helping so many people, but rather your immediate family, that is to say your parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces perhaps.
Time continues to pass us by and maturity makes us selfish and we think more about ourselves, and we associate this large sum of money with having a nice house, car, trips and all kinds of possible comforts.
I don’t know which of these thoughts Fernan had, a great friend of mine, when he received a message on Facebook with the news that he would be sent a million and a half euros, on the sole condition that he would use, at least, half a million on some kind of social project here in Cuba, preferably linked to orphaned children.
I was the only person he entrusted this good news too, I was flattered; the truth is that he didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up, especially his wife who lives dreaming about nice things that he would never be able to give her, at least with his poor salary.
When he told me, his voice appeared to be calm like it always did, the usual affection he had for me, but his heart was thumping, his eyes were alive too.
If the news is true, I will give you several thousand so you can set up your own business so you don’t have to work so hard – he told me – and I’ll buy you a scooter which I know you want so badly.
When it comes to money, I don’t trust anything, because I haven’t been so lucky when it comes to these kinds of gifts, much less for a good business – but why do I have to be so pessimistic, I told myself.
Fernando isn’t an ambitious person, far from it, but whose eyes wouldn’t get wide with the news of a million euros to spend and to buy the things that they wouldn’t be able to buy even in a hundred lifetimes in Cuba.
First of all, he doesn’t have a house, he lives with his wife and two children in his in-laws’ home – living together has been OK, but it doesn’t compare to having your own place, most Cubans know what I’m talking about.
Secondly, a car, my God, a car – nobody in his family has even been able to buy a moped, they come from a line of workers who have to work hard and fighters like he calls himself; well I come from the same kind of family.
Thirdly, set up a secure business so that money can grow or, at least, not be spent so quickly to help out his parents who live in very cramped and poor conditions. Everybody knows that whenever you get money and you don’t invest it in something, it will always end one day…
I imagine that these were the ideas that passed through Fernan’s head – the truth is he never told me – when a 70-something year old English lady, a friend of his on Facebook, told him in an unexpected message that she wanted to send him a million and a half euros, because she was very sick and she wanted to leave this sum of money in the hands of somebody who would use it for good.
My friend’s first reaction was to ask her why she didn’t give it to her children or some close relative, but she replied that nobody would use it better than him, plus her children would receive a good inheritance.
After so much insistence… our future millionaire, I mean to say, Fernan, let the lady do all the paperwork, the contract with a Swiss bank where the sum was kept, from which he received a missive from the executive director (manager), a letter which I saw with my own two eyes.
The next thing he had to do was to apply for a passport, one of the requirements – something I never understood, as he wouldn’t be traveling anywhere, but anyhow… a bank card too where he could receive money from abroad and other documents. Then, he had to wait…
After getting his hands on all the documents he needed, a whole month went by, and as he hadn’t heard anything back from the English lady, he wrote to her and she responded that as this was a large sum, the process would take a bit of time, that he should patiently wait.
He didn’t want to appear impatient, so he waited two, three more months. He got in touch with the woman again and she said the same thing.
Five months have passed by since her last message, and even though I have told him lots of times that scams of this kind are common on the Internet – I did so from the very beginning -, he didn’t believe me and continued to patiently wait for a million euros that would change his life, mine too, as he promised to buy me a scooter so that I could comfortably get to work.