If I were not Cuban

Source:  La Santa Mambisa
February 5 2019

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If I were not Cuban, how many things I would have lost, how much Creole substance, how much laughter and handshakes. If the stork had thrown me in other latitudes, I would not have grown up with the doors of my house always open in the middle of a rural, quiet and picturesque neighborhood. I would not have graduated as a university student without paying a penny.

I would be missing the photos next to the bust of Marti in the primary school, the memory of parents tying scarves around their young children’s necks, the din of the neighborhood in the 1972 Olympics after Teofilo Stevenson’s fulminating knockout on the prominent and square jaw Yankee Duanne Bobbick, who was nicknamed “The White Hope” and, hope at last, it was eaten by the goat, even though it was not green.

If I were not Cuban, I would have ignored the collective joy that is woven around a large pot full of broth in the middle of the street. I would not know the clatter of dominoes under an almond tree, nor would I have memories of the Cansao Ox of the Van Van, the Nueva Trova, Palmas and cañas or even the meteorological part of Dr. José Rubiera, known in my town as the Hurricane Hunter

If I were not Cuban I would not have applauded Fidel whenever the carapacho sounded to the characters from the North, I would never have premiered a guayabera and probably did not know anything about the ball, staying out of the crowd when Antonio Muñoz the ball burst and Bobby Salamanca shouted at the top of his lungs: “Goodbye, Lolita of my life.” I would not know the congrí, nor the pig roasted in a plectrum.

If I were not Cuban, I could get up early and not drink coffee, I would always speak softly, I would not joke in the most unexpected places, I would not engage in improvised conversations with any stranger at the bus stop, I would not ask the neighbors for salt, I would not donate blood voluntarily, I would know a little less solidarity, I would not go to hospitals for free, I would not have children protected by free vaccines, I would not pay attention to the Virgin of Charity, to the stamps of San Lazaro or to the offerings left in the trunks of the ceibas.

If I were not Cuban, I would ignore the joy of making a Constitution and have the right to vote for it; and above all, that a good people can more than destroy a tornado.

If I were not Cuban, I would never have learned that you can live with less, but with more pride; that you can block anything but the smile and the desire to live without price.