Life in Cuba in Your Early TwentiesApril 23, 2012 | | Print |
HAVANA TIMES, April 23 — I have a friend who has taken to stealing bottles of beer and rum from bars and shops in different parts of the city.
In the distracted moments of salesclerks, he’ll help himself to the refrigerators – and even close them as a courtesy.
It always ends up with someone running after him, but so far he’s wound up leaving them in dust.
Sometimes he asks himself — and me along with him — “How is it that I still haven’t gotten my pretty-boy face smashed in?”
My friend looks great, but he’s not enrolled in any school, and he works only as a night watchman.
He collects keys that don’t open any doors, as well as candles to light up who knows what path. But he doesn’t collect bottles.
The fruits of his thievery wind up in his bloodstream, or as gifts.
He doesn’t have any money to feed his habit, and it seems that bottles are generally close at hand.
In any case, he knows they’re his.
He’s decided that those pieces of paper called money aren’t the measure of his happiness.
Alcohol, against all odds, has become a rapturous substance for him.
He’s not a kleptomaniac, and he feels sorry that he’s getting the salesclerks in trouble. And yes, he’s always afraid when he steals, but he’s not bad at doing the math either.
He knows that those who have “taken all his chocolate,”* don’t pay him what they owe him.
He’s concluded that he owes about five decades worth of asking forgiveness for his petty theft.
Note: my friend doesn’t rob self-employed people, and soon he intends to obtain some rolls of toilet paper.
In the night, he writes a graffiti message to the city: “You God Damn Zombies!”
He writes nervously, with compulsion, using a silver marker.
My friend is a 22-year-old worker who lives with his family in a space that measures 10 square meters.
He still hasn’t told me if he wants to leave the country, and I don’t dare to ask him whether he’s happy.
He told me that his thefts are a cry, or various cries – ones to alarm discouragement, exploitation and misery.
* An allusion to the classic Cuban song El Bodeguero and its lyrics: “Toma chocolate, Paga lo que debes” (Drink chocolate, pay what you owe).