By Daniela Mojies
HAVANA TIMES — “What do you love when you love?” is the name of one of Gonzalo Rojas’ reflective book of poems, which opens with this question, which has been going around my head for some weeks now and it still seems like an inescapable enigma to me. Love is truly sacred and I’m sure of its incalculable effect on society, just like society’s inevitable effect on love.
It’s true that people marry out of interest while prostitution and cases of domestic violence occur in every country, in underdeveloped countries as well as the world’s superpowers, however, it’s also a given fact that people’s financial means play a critical role in the manifestations of this crippled love.
Everybody knows what the economic situation in Cuba is like, and the gap between Cubans and politics and their cold indifference, or useless non-conformism because of their submissiveness, is also well-known. The majority of the Cuban population seems to resign itself to their mere existence, getting by any way they can and a select few are content with the luxury of being alive.
Amidst this reality, I hear my parents constantly arguing about what we’re going to eat, the electricity, all of the money they’ve invested in buying building materials to finish off the bathroom… I hear them say – you pay for that with your own money – or – you owe me 20.
I amuse myself by watching my mother change the hiding place of our savings every so often so that my father doesn’t touch them, because “he doesn’t save”. I watch them bitter and unfriendly with each other, and the worst thing is that I’m sure they’d be happy if the house bills were secured, because when we have money at home, they don’t fight and I seriously ask myself whether they love each other, and if they do, what does love mean to them?
A close friend of mine told me that ever since he was a child, his mother has told him that she married her father so that she wouldn’t have to keep on living with a leaky roof, that it would have been better if she had had never had him, because in the end, she still has to do a lot of work and my parent’s friends also fight over their financial issues.
My blood boils when I see how some people’s greed can leave a mark on somebody else’s spirit, taking away from them what any human being needs to live as such. Searching for happiness is man’s innate destiny and it is still controversial for people to feel realized even in the most welcoming of spaces. Why then do we make happiness so difficult? Why is it impossible for some people to put people’s wellbeing above everything else? The truth is that we already know the answers to all of these questions.
And what can we say about young girls; yes, because many of them are just girls, who have come from the provinces in search of a habanero with a home, and if they’re lucky enough, maybe their dream of meeting a foreigner who will whisk them away on an airplane “happily ever after” will come true. However, what has happened to their love? What do we do with our dreams in their purest form?
The list goes on to include teachers, doctors, chefs, drivers and a neverending list of workers who have to look after those who have sunk into indifference and apathy for their jobs. Like my friend the amazing clarinet player who works all day in a cafe, with such a great love for music, with so much love, but his basic needs are greater.
Money is our time in life, the time we invest to earn it, that can never be recovered later on in life and it’s unacceptable that we Cubans spend our entire lives working and aren’t even able to enjoy our salaries. This forces us to, because this is what it does, it forces us to resort to so-called “illegal” means and then they dishonor us for it, converting our families into a pack of wolves where some bite others. Unsatified needs animalize us human beings and this explains the large part of the aggresiveness we see on a daily basis on Cuba’s streets.
It pains me to say it, but a lot of the time, love can’t win out against money; this saddens me greatly, but it’s true. My parents got married because of love, they had me out of love, they continue living because of love, however, they aren’t happy because they don’t have time to love each other, because in Cuba we don’t have the conditions we need to be able to love. However, love still opens the way throughout this land, Cubans love however they can and they love ardently, in true Cuban fashion.