It’s not the brand name of some appliance made in Japan. And I don’t know why listening to John Coltrane reminded me of Yokira. In fact, I wanted to talk about Lisandra, although they’ve never met.
Maybe it’s that listening to Coltrane made me wonder what Yokira and Lisandra would have done if they had met.
Although both are only a couple of years older than me – Lisandra studied with me in a Cuban pre-university high school (in a dorm), and Yokira was my cinema companion when I finished the “Pre” – I can’t really say that either of them was my friend.
Anyway, John wasn’t my friend either…
What was similar about those two girls, back then, was that they were both seen to be what society usually calls crazy.
Yokira was the oldest of four kids in a family totally and completely dedicated to the tasks of the Cuban Revolution. Nobody resembled her. Her brothers and sisters didn’t dream of making revolution or flying in any way.
Yokira was different, and she needed to be different. She went to museums, concerts and wanted to be an actress, but getting into an art school isn’t so easy, much less if your parents don’t support you.
Her years as an adolescence came to an end and anguish toyed with her as if she were a character of Greek theater. Her house was a small jail; as was Alamar, the suburb where she lived.
She didn’t have her own room, so to be alone and give free rein to her illusions she went to the only public place that remained open all night: the mortuary.
There nobody bothered her. But her parents found out and wanted to take her to a psychiatrist. Yokira the nut, the impossible one. Yokira makes her mother ill.
Lisandra also had some dreams, and she had read Les miserables when she was 12. But she didn’t live in Alamar. She hardly lived, because her house burned down, and thanks to her mother’s good body they shared a room without bathroom in a tenement in Cerro; it was one of the worst, I can assure you. But it was preferable to a shelter.
So at 16, Lisandra didn’t have a roof to cover her dreams. That’s why the dorm suited her so well, as did a boy she met there, until she got pregnant.
She came close to getting an abortion several times, but never ended up doing it. Only a couple of friends knew her secret, but she fooled them by claiming that she wasn’t pregnant any more.
The day of the birth Lisandra faked having terrible kidney pains. Since there was only a male nurse at the school, they took her to the nearest town (kids are boarded at all the pre-university high schools Cuba, in the provinces outside of the capital, to facilitate working in the fields). In the clinic she asked to go to the bathroom, and there – alone – she gave birth.
Yokira now lives in Spain, distanced to some degree from the center of her anguish. She has a boy and they say that she’s quite happy and much less crazy. (A couple of years ago her mother went to visit her and to take care of the grandson).
Lisandra was sentenced to several years of house arrest because the baby died from the terrible conditions of the childbirth. Nobody could prove if she had planned to kill him or to escape with him. Just the same, they found her guilty, and crazy.
Since I don’t believe that I will ever see either of the two again, and since they don’t know each other, I would like to send them a song by John Coltrane, to see if they feel less alone.