Old Folk in Cuba

Yanelys Nuñez Leyva

Ilustración por Onel
Ilustración por Onel

HAVANA TIMES —When I saw them again, it felt as though they were stuck in time. Their faces marked by new worries – a sick great grandson – the elderly couple greets me.

When I first met them some years ago, I’d noticed their complete devotion to the family they had built, a devotion that led them to raise, not only their children, but their grandchildren and great grandchildren as well.

I remember them constantly busy with house chores or a baby in their arms (their offspring was quick to produce their own).

I never saw them have any real fun (only rum gave them a chance to unplug), for their family never gave them a moment’s rest.

Losing a child made them commit even more strongly to the family (albeit less energetically), as they felt they had been punished for no real reason.

Now that I see them again, I notice they haven’t changed much. Forsaking any personal dreams, goals or aspirations, they continue to devote themselves fully to the care of their kin, even when most have already “flown the nest.”

Shouldering the burden of several generations (who at times express contempt towards them), they continue to eke out a living out of sheer inertia.

Their greatest ambition amounts to being useful within the family.

I don’t pretend to judge the choices they’ve made in life. What is extremely sad is the fact one cannot perceive an iota of satisfaction in their faces.

This isn’t meant as a commentary on the importance of selfishness or the need to dismantle the family as an institution. It is rather an invitation to realize ourselves as individuals, which always gives off positive energy.

7 thoughts on “Old Folk in Cuba

  • Sorry I can’t help, but I don’t think I have ever heard the song in Cuba.

  • I heard a song wide back it goes like this ” gracias Fidel” this is all that I remember off it , I have been trying to find it , if any off you gentleman could guide me to the singer name and songs name I would appreciated that act of kindness .

  • Cubans old enough to be grandparents today are assumed old enough to have experienced the earliest days of the Castro revolution and therefore are likely to be the most disillusioned because of its abject failure.

  • true

  • As grandparents existing on pensions of $8 per month, those described who doubtless when having their children had hope if not expectation of a better life for their children, they have had to accept that their hopes were thanks to the political system imposed on Cuba by the Castro family regime, futile.
    That futility and being powerless to influence any change is reflected in that lack of satisfaction expressed in their faces.
    These good people have done and continue to do the best they can for their family. As a grandfather one can understand why it is that they are doubtless questioning the wisdom of their original choice to have children. What does their world contained within Cuba now offer those children and the grandchildren? More of the same? The same day to day dreary consideration of how to feed the family tomorrow, the inability to effect any change with daily exhortation to support the very regime that throttles individuality?
    Having had their children and grandchildren they are devoted to them but where is the hope for the future?

  • Most Parents love their children and simply adore their grandchildren, however grandparents also deserve a life, so remember that children!

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