HAVANA TIMES — Only a real Cuban will understand this article; only somebody who has lived in Cuba over the past 20 years will know what I’m talking about.
How happy a family is when a relative arrives home who risked their life in violent Venezuela or their health in the African continent rife with exotic diseases.
How good it is when a son, brother, cousin returns, who has been living in Europe for a decade but doesn’t forget their family and comes loaded with the most unimaginable objects every year, things that only a Cuban would transport from one country to another.
Not to mention relatives in the United States, the ones who never stop feeling nostalgia for their beloved land, who feel so close yet so far. These are the same people who have maintained entire families for decades, providing impossible luxuries on an island that is becoming increasingly expensive.
How grateful we are for a simple change of clothes, which might be the simplest thing over there, but is almost a luxury here. Not to mention medicines which are sometimes in shortage, or only exist in pharmacies for tourists which nobody knows who thought to invent these, but they continue to widen the gap between the most powerful and ordinary Cubans every day.
But how embarrassing it is too when a friend from any country decides to bring a little something to help any Cuban family out, as they know that wages barely cover food expenses and “here a pair of tennis shoes don’t cost anything, we’re doing this from the heart,” like I was told once.
Embarrassment yes, and not because we don’t have things, because a hungry man can’t feel ashamed of their hunger if they work honestly every day, just like a sick person can’t feel ashamed of their disease, because nobody wishes for that.
Shame can even come with a damn cell phone (who invented this crap? I ask myself every day) because, in order to use it regularly, you need to ask this person that lives on the other side of the world, “could you send me a top up please.”
If I work all year round, I even have two jobs (aside from my domestic job which I don’t earn wages for), why is it then that I have to bother a relative, a friend or a simple acquaintance to help me out with a service which stopped being a luxury for the rest of the world centuries ago and is now an essential item.
Embarrassment comes with having to accept help from real friendships and knowing that they are sharing what is theirs out of the goodness of their hearts. This unsettling feeling can become anger, because what we really want to do is give instead of receive (at least sometimes) because we would like to invite others instead of being invited in our own homes…