Descriptive Hardship / Rosa Maria Rodriguez
Posted on April 17, 2014
An acquaintance of mine traded his one-and-a-half-room apartment for an
even smaller one and a little cash, to ease his alcoholism and misery. I
never entered his house and so I was unaware of his poverty. His
furniture looked like shabby junk, which was probably — as in most Cuban
houses — bought before the triumph of this guerrilla model that
installed itself in power in 1959 and has been there ever since.
An oily film covers the surface of the dresser that was perhaps once
covered in formica, the dilapidated cabinet narrates a history of old
age and over use, as do his mattress and the remains of his sofa and
Russian washing machine–from which he had to amputate the dryer–which
are as revealing as the speeches of the Cuba’s leaders, their words
blurred by neglect and demagoguery.
During the move, he took out a yellowed nylon bag with a ton of
black-and-white photos to show his companions how beautiful the
apartment had been when his father moved in 1958. Then the furniture
seemed alive and the walls still wore an attractive and aesthetic coat
of paint. Monochromatic sentiments showing the nostalgia on his face,
pummeled by frustration and liquor.
His drinking buddies helped him carry out his things and let them in the
sun for an hour waiting for transport. They were a dozen addicts invited
to show “solidarity” and encouraged by rum, which served as fuel to
maintain their enthusiasm. A truck from the thirties carried a part of
the “skimpy” patrimony to the “new house,” which was clearly built
before the Castro government and which sheltered, as in many other homes
in Cuba, the ethyl-alcohol scandals of that part of society that drowns
its disappointments and miseries with a cheap sulfuric homemade rum
which is all they can afford.
The alcohol solidarity brigade turned themselves over to the care of the
liquid treasure left int he bottle. The emptying of this was the shot
that ripped through their own hardships accumulated over decades of
governmental injustices, apathy, anti-democratic subjugation and social
exhaustion. The delirium tremens, or tremendous delirium of trying to
trick societies all the time with drunken ideological and economic
theories, has failed worldwide.
Perhaps, in the quiet of their homes, before the bottle gives them the
knockout blow, they pull from their personal yellowed plastic bags of
history, photos that bear witness to that fact that once–before
addiction had them tied by the neck–these were their houses and this was
their country, before this evil government drove it to ruin.
17 April 2014
Source: Descriptive Hardship / Rosa Maria Rodriguez | Translating Cuba –