Aunt Kika


Havana scene. Photo: Caridad

It’s common for us as people to be obsessed with judging others: evaluating what they do, what they think, how they dress, who they associate with, what they spend their time and money on… We judge everything.  In that way we lose out on a lot of good feelings, relationships and experiences, and can even do harm to the person we judge.

My mother had an aunt who was different from all the women in the family.  She died at the end of the 80s at less than 50 years of age.  Her name was Kika.

Before my eyes of an almost adolescent girl, to me Kika was the most cheerful of my grandmother’s sisters.  She had a good part of her body marked by fire, but was tall and had wide hips and blond hair.  Now that I think about it, her face was similar to those plump statuettes of the Buddha they sell in stores, with an inner peace —real or not— that made her seem more attractive and mysterious.

She lived in Havana’s China Town prior to the catching on fire of the room in which she raised her six children (four girls and two boys).

While pretending to be asleep, I would listen to my family’s conversations regarding the mysterious sister of my grandmother.

In this way I learned of the suspicion that her first husband had raped two of her daughters.  The suspicion finally dissolved giving way to total assuredness, when the youngest daughter accused her father saying “she too” had been sexually abused.

The opinion was held among the relatives that Kika didn’t know how to choose men…or she that didn’t bother to choose them.  But that didn’t create any adverse feeling in me toward her.

I began to look at her differently when I discovered how she behaved towards my mother and the rest of my grandmother’s children.  This was during a period in which they lived together.

After so many years, I’m still not capable of repeating a single one of the accusatory anecdotes.  I only know that, somehow, Aunt Kika benefitted her children to the detriment of the rest of my grandmother’s successors.

That fact was enough to turn null the sympathy that my grandmother’s sister had evoked in me. She was an unjust woman.

At 13 or 14 we feel we should rebel against the unjust world of adults – their hypocritical ways of life, their cowardice, their lies.

So I didn’t care if Kika was suffering the rigors of cancer throughout all her body.  She had done wrong —in my “innocent” way of seeing things— to my mother, my grandmother, my aunts and uncles, and was not worthy of my affection, barely my greeting (though she only visited us once every two months).

I didn’t stop to think that each person has their own truth, their reasons for seeing things in one way or another.

She was a mother responsible for six children; my grandmother was also responsible for her own.

When somebody hurts us we express pain, but it doesn’t mean that we must hate them for that or that the person would hurt us for the simple pleasure of creating pain.

My family continued to love Kika, with all her defects, and she loved us as well.  I didn’t learn this in time and I lost out on the wonderful experience of knowing Aunt Kika.