I arrive at the little house in Queens after a week in Alaska. Six intercontinental planes. Minus twenty degrees Celsius and the noonday sun peeking over the horizon. I was so free and so happy. I am going to love there, under the Fairbanks Aurora Borealis. My son will be born there. And he will be as Cuban as you. Or more so. Because he will have no memory of horror.
I arrive at the little house in Queens and fall down dead on the couch. I don’t even unpack. I’m dying of hunger. I have almost no voice. If I get sick in the United States I will have to heal myself alone. To go back to Cuba would be suicide. There the doctors from State Security would wait for me to fulfill their mission.
I go out and get some Colombian roast beef with rice and red beans. They put a slice of avocado on it. Nothing tastes like anything, but in the United States that’s how it is. The smell revolts me. I stay hungry.
Actually, I don’t like buying from the Latinos in the neighborhood. They have a mortuary look that even post-Castro Cubans don’t have. You go into the restaurant and they look at you like iguanas, with toothpicks between their teeth and the ugliest clothes in the world, exceeded only by the schmaltzy music playing.
I bought it anyway. Chewed a bit. Then, I toss the whole mess into the trash. Or not. I go to toss it, but I can’t reach the can in the kitchen. Because at that instant there’s a little mouse in the middle.
It’s gray. It’s starving. It’s clear that it spent a week without me, locked out of the little house in Queens without a thing to nibble. It must be very young. Now it’s almost begging me with its eyes, like a spontaneous pet. it would be so easy to smash it with a shovel. That’s what we’d do on the little island.
But I put the leftovers in a plastic bag. I almost put it in his mouth. And the mouse started to eat the rest of my food in the little house in Queens. Every now and then he looks at me. I look at him. We look at each other. We’re both fucked up. Alone. Helpless. Nobody would remember us if we didn’t help each other.
I kick back on the couch. This is exile. Substitute for what in Cuba would have been a bloody death a hint of mutual pity and solidarity.
29 November 2013