Opening Statement



Monday, 1 December 2014

Christmas In Cuba 1: Amor Prohibido!

Complete Story @ Here!

"Christmas in Cuba" is a short story I wrote from one of my trips to Cuba during the 1990's. It was originally published at the time on the Education Network of Ontario. I am posting it on my blogsite between now and Christmas 2014. I hope you like it.


 December 24 1996: I remember Christmas in Cuba. Early in the evening Matilde and I are in our room at Josef y Luisas’ casa, in little Bohemia, not far from the cathedral in the city centro, Santiago de Cuba. A bare light bulb dangles overhead the simple little white washed room, bathing a handmade stool, our rumpled bed in its penetrating glare. I stoop by the stool, wrapped in gay red and green Christmas paper, tacking up a cardboard Christmas tree to the cracked wall. Placing her gifts beneath. The none too secret lumpen shapes of make up, a Walkman, a pair of Reebok shoes.

Mati prances about the room, Wheee! My mujar Cubana, such childlike joy! In her bare feet, cutoffs, a halter top, dancing to a Madonna Christmas song crackling from our ghetto blaster. No. Not the Virgin Mary -the other one. Leaping off the bed, to the kitchen to fetch my gift. Gingerly putting it under the tree, the heavy sweet smell of fresh roasted coffee beans fills the air.

Giggling, hand daintily over her lips, she tosses back her thick black mane of hair with careless abandon, a twinkle in her big baby blue Spanish eyes. Eyeing the gift, I reach for my crumpled pack of cigarillo negrils atop the rickety dresser top. Lighting a cigarette, taking a hard acrid drag, the hazy blue smoke curls through my fingers, spreading out across the room. Plopping herself  on the bed beside me, Mati’s tickling fingers reach under my shirt. Collapsing on our backs I playfully run my hands through her hair, down her slender neck. Breathlessly she whispers, “No! No! Not now. Let’s open the gifts!” 



"Ummmm. I wonder. What is it......?” I wink. She tenderly brushes her lips to mine, directing my gaze with a tiny pout to the little package underneath the tree. I whisper in her ear; “Matilde, aunque soy pobre todo esto que te doy vale mas que el dinero porque si es amor/ [Although you’re poor, all this you give to me is worth more than money because it is truly love].”

“Si. Is Okay?” Damn. We may not be saints on Christmas eve. Not very religious either. But tonight is very spiritual all the same. In our hidden room, tucked away from the suspicious eyes of the policia; amor prohibido. Forbidden love. Los dos, the two of us, from different countries. Different worlds. In a land where relationships between a Cubana and an extranjaro/ foreigner are barely tolerated. In Cuba, where Christmas was banned as even a secular holiday until recently. Still isn’t officially a religious holiday, “Creemos en la amor.”

“Yes,” Absently Matilde reaches for my cigarette, with outstretched hand, a sudden little tremor, as she reflects upon my words, “We believe in love.”

“Davido! Matilde!” Josef raps on our door, “Dinner. Es ready!”

Laughing Matilde sits us. Straightens out her top. “Come. We can open our presents later!”


To be continued ......

SERIES: Part 1 @  Here! Part 2 @ Here!  Part 3 @ Here! Part 4 @ Here! Part 5 @ Here! Part 6 @ Here! Part 7 @ Here! Part 8 Here! Part 9 @ Here! Part 10 @ Here! Part 11 @ Here! Part 12 @ Here! Post Script @ Here!

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