Raising the Level of Difficulty, Cuba Like a Video Game

The Dark Night of the Soul.

By Veronica Vega

HAVANA TIMES – A friend was telling me she felt like she was in an involuntary obstacle race: “Every day, the bar I have to jump gets higher!” she complained.

For some time now, I’ve been accumulating the same feeling. And what are we going to do if the only path before us is mysteriously filled with increasingly difficult obstacles?

In 2020, the global nightmare of Covid, whether a real pandemic or exaggerated by media propaganda, only God knows, the world seemed to take a detour that led us away from what seemed natural and organic. Everything became dense, almost unreal, like a science fiction dystopia.

In Cuba, coming from a prolonged crisis, we never believed that things could actually get worse.

But they could, and they did. Prices rose (and continue to rise), food supply and distribution worsened, and so did the quality. The public transportation situation, which in the second half of the 1980s had a brief period of almost glorious functionality, worsened even more.

Not to mention the state of hospitals or access to medicines.

Everything is as rocky as a journey through a tortuous tunnel where we sometimes believe we glimpse light, far away, like a promise that prevents us from giving up.

One can gauge the quality of a life by the nature of its dreams. Before, I aspired to (within the demolishing dynamics of survival) find space for this minimal journalism that I can do, where the topic of Cuba becomes increasingly painful.

To find (or steal from the days) additional time without pressure where I can immerse myself in my fourth novel, which I started months ago, or any other literary project.

To stretch that period with a child’s naivety and also be able to exercise, watch a movie occasionally, and make more frequent trips to the city center to meet the only friend who has remained against all odds in this perennial stampede that always surprises us with someone else’s departure.

All this while dodging power outages, long hours in the kitchen, outings to buy food or other basic products, a visit to the vet, and whatever inconvenience appears in the daily itinerary.

From the list, I started discarding points until I was left with the aspiration of being free at sunset. To feel that this time, where the light becomes dim, sweet, in a transition of inexplicable peace, is mine and sacred so I don’t feel the compulsion of duty hammering at me. As Virginia Woolf defines it in “The Waves”: “I must, I must, I must…”

But now, due to some dysfunction whose cause has not yet been determined, there has been no water in the building where I live for five days. At least not enough to activate the cistern motor, which pumps it to the different floors.

The domestic dynamic has become so cumbersome with this crucial detail that my aspirations have been reduced to seeing water run from the tap and considering myself the luckiest person in the world.

I’m not using sarcasm as a communication tool. What I say is literal.

The range of dreams can shrink in a brutal retreat that centers you on just one, derived from the most basic reality. Like an extension of the need for oxygen, water is irreplaceable.

So, how can one see the world the same if one begins to lack something essential and the solution lies in a collective process, perhaps bureaucratic, in an environment slowed down by the lack of hope?

The water shortage disrupts the body’s functioning and the family structure, robbing us of peace, essential sanitation, and the most rustic comfort that separates us from uncivilization.

I step out onto the staircase and hear neighbors talking among themselves: the topic of the moment is water. When will enough come in, when will the motor be turned on, what might be happening, and how could it be resolved? There is great uncertainty and a lack of information.

What needs to be done, who will do it, someone called Aguas de La Habana and they said they would send an inspector, but no one came.

The absence of the precious liquid causes a psychological effect that involves almost all the senses. I feel thirsty, I want to bathe, to wash, to mop the floors… to rid myself of this sticky sweat and the bitter feeling of helplessness.

Luckily, from my balcony, I can see the sea, suddenly a very fresh breeze arrives, and I promise myself to go to the beach tomorrow to at least feel that there the presence of water is immense and palpable.

I keep thinking about the obstacle race and wonder if life is like those video games where the programmer established obligatory complications at each level, which you must overcome if you want to keep advancing, if you want to win.

I’m not sure if victory is success, as interpreted in worldly terms (a house with private hydraulic installations? A country where everything works optimally?). Or if what is asked of us is the mastery of internal values (moral, spiritual?), to keep overcoming the next levels.

Read more from the diary of Veronica Vega here.

Veronica Vega

Veronica Vega: I believe that truth has power and the word can and should be an extension of the truth. I think that is also the role of Art and the media. I consider myself an artist, but above all, a seeker and defender of the Truth as an essential element of what sustains human existence and consciousness. I believe that Cuba can and must change and that websites like Havana Times contribute to that necessary change.

One thought on “Raising the Level of Difficulty, Cuba Like a Video Game

  • Crises raise strong people. What they are currently experiencing is exactly that, an upbringing that is turning them into people who have to strive to have the most basic things. The world should not have that kind of situation, but reality has no sense of justice.

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