HAVANA TIMES – Chronic is one of my favorite words, and it’s also one of the most hard-hitting, which is why I don’t use it very often. It brings back memories.
Being a doctor, I’m a victim of the memories that come flooding back… dialysis patients, patients with diabetes, child cerebral palsy, cancer, mental health patients with a fixed stare and autistic children. Likewise, empty pharmacies, “how expensive,” “there isn’t any,” “there isn’t any,” “there isn’t any” … A never-ending list.
Tonight, I watched the News out of habit. Yep! The show that government’s Cuban broadcast media uses for depressing purposes. “Cuba is steaming ahead.” While (any) other country is in chaos. Seeing that depresses me.
In fact, I had already lowered my head and rested it on the table where I was writing. This weight in my chest has already gone into sync with the evening. A weight that I hate to channel. Not because I’m a pessimist, but rather for being its vehicle. This time without rain to wash it away and make my day better…
They were literally speaking about the “food and nutritional sovereignty we need to obtain.” (It’s sickening). About new sovereign and sustainable food systems. On establishing a food culture that contributes to a healthy and balanced diet. About agricultural production and boosting production methods. “Thereby supplying the Cuban people with pork, chicken, turkey,” an employee who was interviewed said. The normal verbal diarrhea – I told myself. Going hungry?
I couldn’t eat. On top of that, I couldn’t let some steam off with my partner, like something out of a terrible nightmare. He got off the toilet, nauseating, and showed me the product of a dietary transgression. I preferred to keep quiet. I didn’t tell him about the news that are determined to laugh in my face.
Going for a walk today, luckily there was bread. We bought some and it vanished. We ran our clean hands, our young and innocent hands along the same old shop windows. Stores barely stocked with water, alcoholic beverages and nappies.
The water store! – my partner shouted out as a joke to fight off my empty feeling… We passed by lines in the town, by corners of old people piled on top of each other, in front of drugstores without anti-inflammatory and antiviral drugs. We passed by voices and sighs. Some people asked questions like: where did you buy bread?
Some little girls were playing on the street corner. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the image of that girl who looked at our bread. Her head spun as if she were watching something magical. Her eyes were so fixated, as if she were a mental health patient. The girl’s little mouth echoed like a metastatic tumor. Her neck stood still like a deoxygenated brain. We were so absorbed that we weren’t able to give her a piece of bread. Oh the bread I would have given her!
Chronic hunger is a well-known issue in Cuba. No matter how many times my parents tell me, I can’t even imagine what it would have been like when we were friends of the Soviet Union. I still don’t know why I was refused milk when I turned seven years old. The same milk that will soon be taken from my son’s “basic food basket”.
On the horizon
This will be a period of acute chronic hunger, there’s no doubt about that. Nobody can even tell me why. I just take a moment to meditate in the face of lies and vile deeds.
Imagining the terror of the graduated journalist, their illusory search for the truth, their circus-like reports, their muzzled voice, their dirty and withered aura. I can’t deal with CENSORSHIP. It’s a word many people fear.
They are afraid to talk about food shortages. However, my voice refuses to lower its head and shouts: damn them! The ones that drank from the Mambises’ blood, 61 years ago. Who forgot that artists that emerged died of hunger. If Arthur Rimbaud were to wake from the dead, he would write the second Season in Hell.
So much fear spread, anxiety accumulated, years potentially lost, violence and wear-and-tear on our streets every day, in our own families? Dysfunctional families all for a piece of bread. Chronic disease. Stations of the Cross. OPEN YOUR EYES, CUBANS!
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