The Birthday Present

Rosa Martinez

Cuban kid. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES, June 2 — Giselle, my youngest daughter, had a birthday coming up, so that’s why I went to the store in search of a gift.

I’m a worker with a modest income, like the majority of my compatriots. But when it comes to the people I love, I pull out all the stops, though later we have to make a thousand sacrifices to make up for it. In any case, money is never enough, so it doesn’t bother me to spend it on something worthwhile.

When I saw the doll in the window, I knew it just was what I was looking for. I imagined my little girl’s face full of joy as well as the emotion I would feel holding her in my arms, so I didn’t suffer so much when I found out the price.

For a moment I was able to think with a clearer head, and I realized what a damned shame it was to have to pay $10 dollars so that a doll would cry a little. Look, how expense a few tears were going to cost!

I didn’t think about it any further. I paid the ten dollars, picked up the baby doll and went straight home. When the little girl saw her gift she didn’t know what to do. She ran around here and there showing it to anyone who was close by. She then gave me a big hug and — looking at me with the prettiest eyes in the world — she finally said: “It’s so pretty mommy!” Wouldn’t we even give our lives for expressions like that?

It’s a shame that the happiness of the poor lasts such a short time. My other daughter didn’t share in her sister’s joy.

“Such a big fuss for a baby that cries,” she said, upset, evidently more than bothered she was jealous.

“Today your little sister turns three, and this baby is her gift. You shouldn’t feel jealous; we give you pretty gifts too when we can. What we can’t do is buy both at the same time. Our family budget doesn’t allow it,” I told her.

Although I explained all of that to her and I showed her how she had received more gifts than her baby sister, she became quiet and calm, but not convinced. According to her, none of her toys were as pretty as that special doll.

How difficult it is to coexist with other humans, whether as friends, comrades or loved ones in the family. But it’s our duty to try to make those people happy. I always try, but I think that this time it wasn’t completely possible.