Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 4 January 2015 – January 5, 1957. Under the enormous tamarind tree in the yard of my house in Camaguey, my cousin Alcibiades looked at me incredulously when I read a letter I intended to leave for the Three Kings. We were both 10, but he knew everything about life: where babies came from, how to light a cigar, and the basic differences between a Ford and a Chevrolet.
With his usual insolence he said, “Are you bonkers? Don’t you know it’s your father who puts the presents under your bed tonight?”
“Yeah, of course,” I said, confused, and put the letter in the pocket of my shirt.
I looked at my father and he returned the look; I couldn’t believe it. He had to be Melchior, even though he didn’t have a beard. I was the son of one of the Three Kings! There was no other explanation.
Years later I learned all the details. Not even their names were in the Bible, where Saint Matthew told how they were astrologers following a star and that they candidly alerted King Herod to the coming of the Messiah and he, in order to prevent it, unleashed the slaughter of the innocents.
Even today I bump into the same naiveté of my early childhood.
The difference is that now I am the infidel Alcibiades, revealing to the gullible that what happened in Cuba in the last half century isn’t even based on a myth, but a scam.
But there will always be another son of Melchior believing that “this” is justice and when I reveal to him that the system prevailing in Cuba isn’t even the socialism described by the classics, he will conclude that my description must be wrong because the country is on the right track.
Far from the Island, the stars continue to follow their imperturbable course.