The Mass of the Bread Line / 14ymedio, Victor Ariel Gonzalez

Victor Ariel Gonzalez, Havana, 4 May 2015 – His shirt, once white and elegant, has turned yellow with age. He wears frayed pants and well-worn dress shoes, perhaps a size or two larger than ideal. Contrasting with his clothes, on his head he wears a black beret with an embroidered red star, and slung over his shoulder the tiniest bag emblazoned with the Cuban flag.

The old man reads today’s Granma newspaper in a loud voice alongside the line to buy bread. Excited, he maintains a grandiloquent tone more mocking than declarative, and pauses when he wants to impart gravity to a phrase. Adding some of his own details, such as news of past decades and great failures that have left their mark in his deceptive memory.

His voice fades at the end of an official announcement. Few are those who take their role so seriously. Among those who could not help but listen to him, some smile and gaze at him with expressions of complicity, others remain serious, absorbed in their own problems. Most don’t even pay attention to the nutcase. “Poor thing,” whispers a woman.

Then the old man, feeling that he’s done a favor to the public and after the oven beeps, offers plastic bags at one Cuban peso each to carry the hot bread. The line moved, and even the most worried faces come alive a little. The fantasy ended and the rhythm of the city hurries everyone, even the least sane.