The Biggest Raid / Rosa Maria Rodriguez Torrado

A couple who are friends of mine made fun of me because they say I always lit the bulb of hope; that I should “save energy,” mental energy that is, and not live with illusions, because I’ll die of disappointment. They said this to me a couple of months ago because I mentioned that I think the internet is coming to Cubans.

“The government won’t be able to continue denying us this right,” I told them. Their laughter was like a bucket of ice water, there were convinced they shut me up. More than real mockery, it was an explosion of discomfort, because they were hiding their secret desire that everything remain as before.

My friends took their younger son out of the university where he was studying because they wanted to reunite him with an older son in another country. “He’s sick” they said, to justify taking him out of school, and to avoid his not being able to graduate and because they wanted to keep his travel plans a secret.

They repeated to everyone that he had a “nurse’s note” and would return to his studies “when he was better.” The boy was studying computer science and got a job at a business months ago working as a network administrator, through the intercession and recommendation of a friend. His occupation facilitates his covert sales of internet accounts — at 100 CUCs a month each — to Cuban users desperate to exercise his right to freedom of information.

Before the baby of the family started the job, the characters in my story lived modestly and austerely, every month they put more minutes on their phone to call the older boy when their missing him was most acute. Despite his putting money on the phone from abroad to boost their balance when ETECSA makes their offers, the cell phone use was exclusive to them. It was the tool of contact with the member ripped from the bosom of the family, the umbilical cord that connected them to their son, the magic apparatus that brings this beloved voice that they can only hear from time to time. Since the younger boy started to work they have video conferences with the first-born almost daily, and it’s common to hear and see them talking on the phone. The battered Lada 1600 make car — 1978 model — was taken apart molecule by molecule and its old iron put to different use.

One of the “eyes and ears” of the neighborhood let a friend of my friends know that because of the visible economic well-being they’ve become a target of member of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution and malignant cops and bored vigilantes. My friends, meanwhile, now want the son to leave his job — like he did his studies — to avoid “complications” from his facilitating his compatriots accessing one of the rights long-trampled by the state.

They fear, with reason, that an indiscretion could “entangle” him in a process that would affect his criminal history and the impossibility of the reunification of the brothers. But the boy is reluctant to let go of the golden goose and now they, in contrast, call me and ask why the authorities delay in giving citizens internet access. What a sad paradox!

16 February 2013