A friend swore to me ten years ago that he would not go to the beach again until he could buy—near the sand—a beer in national currency. His pasty white legs confirm that he hasn’t been to the sea for a decade, while waiting to pay for a Cristal beer with his own wages. My neighbor on the corner gave her word that she would not cut her hair before a certain date longed for by many Cubans. Lice made her break her promise at the beginning of the nineties, by which time her hair reached her waist. Recently she changed her strategy and put a glass of water on the wardrobe; she will only remove it when her exiled children can return to live with her.
Tiny wooden houses rest on a tomb in Havana Cemetery. They are the material expression of requests to la Milagrosa, the miracle worker, to provide housing for those who want to escape the paternal home or a crowded collective hostel. Along with these miniatures there are toy planes and boats, to realize the dream of escaping from the insular world to one of natural size. In the same cemetery, to the south, is the tomb of the famous medium who embodied the spirit of Tá José. A rooster, whose head was cut off right there, was offered by some young man who finally achieved a highly coveted position in a foreign firm.
Others are waiting for the miracle of an exit permit, for the release of a political prisoner, or for a license to open a small restaurant. This seems to be the island of impossibilities, the land of unfulfilled promises, the country of offerings withheld, asked for but never received. I myself have sworn that I am not going to stop writing because each of my lines is a prayer from one who can’t take it any more, the virtual vote from one who has let her hair grow, put her offering on the marble and seen several glasses of water dry up.