Tuesday, November 20, 2018



   I had the prohibition of Cuba not visiting my relatives for 17 years.

  I called Mama Gloria by phone every month.

  - How do you feel, mom?

  - Barbara, son. And you. How are you doing?

  - Macanudo, missing you a lot ...

   - Oh, son. Here there is no coffee, no oil, no fresh bread, no flour. Castro has taken everything away from us.

    She said with humor. And I warned:

   -Mom! look that Security of State can you hear! ...

  - I'm old to be afraid of that party of snitches ... Now they are selling us red pea ... They say that they cultivate them secretly in the red lands of Baracoa.

   -Okay, Mom. But ... What's new?

   - Good. You know that my only condition is that I'm blind ... Your cousin M... died ... of intestinal cancer and your other cousin Fe ... of lung cancer for smoking like a coffee pot. But life goes on, son, we all go to the hollow sooner or later. I speak to God directly and I do not trust the priests anymore. Sometimes I give him a scandal in silence or I apologize, that according to the evil or good that surrounds us.

  Mother had suffered the loss of two grown children and my father. She cried at times but said it was the will of the highest and continued with her good humor and joy.

     Between my brother and I, we brought her to Uruguay with my youngest brother who had stayed in Cuba. Great emotion to see them I felt after so many years.

  -Let's go. No crying Here I am whole and happy to see you both.

  We hosted them in the house of my brother and my Uruguayan sister-in-law in front of the beach with the freshness of the sea and the spicy sun of the first days of autumn. Here in this "fashion" area the houses have no number but they have a sign in front that says "The jasmine" or "The eucalyptus" and my brother who had already had many years in Punta named the house, painted on a ornamental stone "Casa Gloria" in honor of Mama.

  My little brother told me:

  -She says she sees nothing, that she is blind, but she said goodbye to the woman who took care of her and she cleaned the sidewalk with her broom and saw the 8 pm novel in Cuba.
   The family watched her and said:
  - Grandmother, but you see something.
  - Yes. But I see everything as between a cloud.
   -So, how do you see the dust in the corridor?
  - Do not ask. No more question. And the novel I do not see ... I hear it.
  The first time we took her to a large supermarket she said:

   -But what a big store! Are not lost among so many shelves? Are there guides here?

   We show you all the shopping by walking among the gondolas full of articles and food.

  - The Virgin Mary! But how many things that do not need. I have a piece of meat, a plate of beans with rice, I'm satisfied. Ahh. Are those chorizos?

   -Yes, mom, of all tastes and sizes- my brother said.

   "Well, you my sons buy me  some ... that Castro destroyed them and my Galician family and my late mother prepared them in the patio of the house on the edge of the river Guaso and I got used to eating them, I have a craving for chorizos.

  A few days later a Galician cousin of my mother made a lunch in her honor at the hotel of which she was the owner.

  The table was full of succulent delicacies. Mama without asking permission grabbed a quarter of roasted chicken and ate it with her hands without ceremony. Then a plate of roast pork with vegetables was served. She was taking it out of the past when the dictatorship had deprived her of those foods.

   I only ate roast pork and some vegetables because my diabetes had already been discovered and I was under treatment with oral hypoglycaemic agents. I had not said anything to Mom.

  The hotel baker had made a peach pie or peaches and a lot of meringue. I could not resist the temptation and I ate a good piece. Suddenly it gave me urgent wishes to go to the bathroom. On the way I found the confectioner who had glaucoma, a bulging eye and looking away as opposed to the otherwise healthy eye. Also my little brother who was going to the bathroom.

  Then the unexpected happened, a resounding gas rumbled in space and I ran to the toilet.

   Later my little brother, who had witnessed my situation with the baker, told me:

   - Compay, throw yourself a gas that the woman straightened her eye and got stuck inside!

  I laughed at his words. It was one of the jokes that we later commented on as a family and we all laughed, especially my mother.

    That night my mother was awakened by an intestinal colic from the filling that had occurred at the hotel lunch.

    I examined her.

    -It's an intake mom. You ate too much Your enzymes to digest so much unusual food have fallen asleep. Go now to the bathroom and evacuate.

  That's what my dear old woman did and then, relieved, she fell asleep next to my little brother like a girl.

     Mom did not like the cartridges packed or in blister of coffee that we bought them:

  -This is not coffee, very refined and glazed. I like coffee beans that in Cuba I toasted in a cauldron  with brown sugar. That was good coffee. Not this synthetic, be it Colombian or Brazilian. Nothing like a Cuban coffee cup.

   After two months of staying at my brother's house and listening to songs from Celia Cruz and Marco Antonio Solís under a parasol on the terrace, my mother had a missing for her house in Cuba and said she wanted to leave. My little brother who had opened a pizzeria next to home about a year ago was also worried about how the business was doing.

   And they left.

  When I called her days later on the phone she told me with humor:

   - There is no coffee, no oil, no rice, just pea of Baracoa.

    And I did not see her again until after 17 years they allowed me to visit my family.

   I love you so much old lady. She is heroine.

                                                  Orlando Vicente Álvarez



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