HAVANA TIMES, Feb. 11 — “Talia, the young girl in the history department, is leaving for Spain,” said my co-worker and good friend during a conversation we were having in our department.
My reaction was quick. “How is it that she’s leaving? Who told you?” I asked.
“Just about everybody knows,” she responded.
The news had run around the whole university like a line of lit gunpowder. Teachers, services workers and even some students were all talking about it. It seems that those of us in my department were the last ones to find out.
“I’m so happy for her!” one teacher said.
“But is she leaving for good or only on a visit?” I asked.
“Her dream has come true,” interrupted a cleaning assistant who overheard our conversation and joined in the exchange.
“You know her pretty well…so who’s going to take care of her little girl? “ I asked.
“I’m not real sure how all that’s going to work out. All I know is that she’s leaving. She’s leaving her two-year-old, her mom and her brother. She wants to leave, but it’s sad too because she has to leave her family behind. I think she only has some cousins who live over there,” added Adela, the cleaning woman.
“I don’t think I could take being far away from my family for very long, but sure, each person has a good idea of what they’re doing, and only she knows what she wants,” I added.
“This country doesn’t leave you any other option,” said a teacher who had been quiet until that moment. Poor conditions force us to emigrate to whatever corner of the planet, and Cuban immigration laws require that we separate from our families when we put economic needs first.
There was a total silence. I imagine that each person was thinking about the pros and cons of leaving Cuba. Maybe they were thinking about the economic betterment that travel means, even though we all know the crisis is impacting the entire world.
Perhaps they were thinking that receiving dollars or euros is the only incentive for Cuban families without successful independently-owned business or without members who work in the tourism industry. Yet, they must have also been thinking about their nostalgia for Cuba – the beach, summer carnival, rum, the people, and of course their families.
I had a single thought: my children. So pretty, so needing of me, and me so needing of their caresses, their kisses, their little spoiled selves…
We still don’t know if Talia is traveling based on a service agreement, if she’ll obtain Spanish citizenship or if some relative or friend invited her. I only know that we all wish her the best of luck in the life that awaits her.