Escape, and a Grandmother’s Tears
HAVANA TIMES – Ilda is 78 years old. Every gray hair on her head is a vivid memory, a felt emotion. She was a literacy teacher, she crossed the hills of the Sierra to bring knowledge to everyone who did not have it, believing in the promise of the Cuban Revolution and her promised future.
It’s getting dark, Ilda is sitting in her usual chair. The one she sat in at night to cradle each of her children and then her grandson. She feels like the proudest grandmother. Arielito, the light in her eyes, has always excelled in school and is now studying engineering.
Sitting on the couch, in front of her feet, her tears begin to burst onto the floor. Yesterday her grandson came to see her. “Grandma, I came to say goodbye, I’m going to Nicaragua.” Ilda could not contain it and in her gaze it began to rain.
Arielito will not graduate as an engineer, perhaps he will not graduate from anything, because that is no longer his interest. Like most young Cubans, he wants to “live”, to have some clothes and money for when he goes out with his friends. Among his dreams was to be a professional and live from his work, as well as having food at his table every day without his father being at risk of imprisonment or without his mother depriving herself to give it to him.
“Think about your future grandson, what are you going to do without studying?”
“Mima, that doesn’t make sense anymore, Cuba is dying and we with it, there is no hope for anyone here, we are another experiment in failed socialism from which those who still lead this country live off.
“I don’t want to repeat vague and empty slogans, with which they try to indoctrinate us since childhood. I have never wanted to be like Che and I spent my entire childhood repeating it (I want to be like Che). I don’t want to keep crying for my friends who are leaving, I don’t want my memories of youth to be the number of blackouts or God knows what new blockade lie! I’m going grandma, I’m leaving.”
Ilda is in her chair, in her gaze there is a greater blackout than the one that occurred a few days ago in all of Cuba, the light in her gaze is heading for Nicaragua, to then continue north. She thinks of Arielito, she tries to remember his voice, his eyes, his hugs. Will these memories be other gray hairs to comb?