smallest post office

Cuban exile. American face with fair skin, green eyes and blonde hair. Not Cuban! Not an exile! Pretend not to care about Cuban culture and its affairs. Look American; act American, inwardly, craving to devour everything Cuban since time had cast a curtain erasing my cultural past. Sitting here and there, overhearing conversations about Cuba and Castro, stories as diverse as dots on a Dalmatian. Debates and arguments. “En Cuba, todo era diferente.” Everything was different in Cuba.
Cuban exiles! Sounds like a zombie movie. My freakin’ gosh–and I am one of those zombies. Not from the first wave but of the second wave. The first two waves left Cuba in search of political asylum–exiles running away from a government that oppressed them. Most of the Cuban exiles from the first wave favored Batista, the president before Castro. These wealthy Cubans were socialist capitalists when Castro seized the island and all of their property. My family left during the second wave of Cubans, skilled workers and small business owners who realized that Castro’s revolution was not what they had thought since Castro had lied to them about communist ideals. The new Cuban mantra for those who realized a little too late that Cuba was now communist: “We go to America, land of the free, for the American Dream!” The power these words had over my parents was amazing since these words ignited momentum and propensity when it came to their ability to work like mad ants at a fourth of July picnic, scurrying about in search for their American Dream. My parents, blinded by the promise of another dream–this time, instead of a Cuban Dream, it was an American one. To my parents, America became the new patria, or fatherland; to my parents, America became Camelot.
In time, trouble brewed in Camelot, though. Problems not thought of since according to my parents these problems did not exist in Cuba. During my teenage years, you see, my parents’ view of America and Cuba kind of reversed as now the land of the free was dangerous as could be when it came to raising me, and Cuba was where they wish they could be. “Este lugar no es Bueno para criar teenagers.”

“Oh my holy God. Mother? Father? What do you mean the land of the free is not a good place to raise teenagers?”

“This place is not for kids.”
“Mother? Father? What do you mean by that? What do you mean this place is not for kids?”

“Porque en Cuba, todo era diferente.” In Cuba, everything was different.

“Mami! Papi! This is not freakin’ Cuba! We are in the land of the free.”

They were afraid, my parents. you see. To let their daughter go next door to the neighbor’s house in the land of the free. It was too dangerous since your neighbor could be the Zodiac Killer, you see. According to my parents, in America, you could not trust anyone. “Let’s watch the television news. Look. Murder. Murder. Juanita, it’s just too dangerous to go out alone. It’s not safe. Too many crazies, Juanita. And, they want to kill kids! En Cuba todo era diferente.”
“Mother, can you expand on that? I’m confused about this land of the free; I can’t even visit my friend Sandra next door? She’s Cuban! They are Cuban!”
“In Cuba, girls weren’t sluts! Men didn’t attack women. Juanita, mi vida, en Cuba, todo era diferente.”

“OMG! Mother! Sluts? I’m just going next door. Besides, Cuba was dangerous! It was Mother! Father! What about the revolution? The murders? People disappearing? There are no murderers in Cuba? Men do not harass women? There are no slutty women in Cuba? I don’t understand! I don’t! What the hell did we come here for? So you could lock me behind a lock door?”

Juanita, en Cuba, todo era diferente.”

That was the day for me, I clearly came to see that I would forever be, isolated in the land of the free.”

Copyright 2013 by Iliana C. Hakes-Martinez


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  4. ladysighs says:

    So very interesting.


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