I could begin saying that the story I want to tell you is real, that it happened to me and no one told it me. And it’s a legitimate artifice, it is clear, but I won’t say that for a strict and irrefutable reason. I will not say it any way now because you already know the story I’m about to tell you is a true story that happened to me and no one told it me.
In northern Guantanamo province, on the way to the towns of San Luis from Yumurí, we can find the Mata Bay, an infamous place at first sight. And there is not need to be a great observer, not even a middle-class one, to notice something like that. On this shore, under a gray sky , the shadow of Osmar Suárez Durán, a man who is now working on the beach, in the sand , even back to me, glides. I barely saw him until he approaches to me, greets and tells me t hat he is Osmar Suarez Duran and is there to help me in anything I need . Then, I think he is another one wh o has confused me with a Spanish or an Argentinean. And I thank him and tell him I am Olga, I’m Cuban and I do not have a single penny in my pocket and think on what the hell is he going to ask me.
But this man, who is over 70, although definitely not seventy kilos, does not change his expression, not even a muscle, and hold me a little harder and tells me t hat what I’m seeing does not look like what Mata Bay actually is. He tells me that I’m watching a delirium dragging too many years, but adds that when he was a boy he made his living tying to dock steamers coming and going every day loaded with bananas . I, little cautious, look for the damn pier, but I fail to distinguish it. Mata Bay is a banana port and it can no longer be anything else, when I was a boy, I was paid ten Cuban pesos for each ship , which sometimes were more than seven in one day. Maybe you won’t believe it , but in all this area we were the only ones who had a railroad connection, and day by day trains came to take the banana to Consolacion del Norte, and the port that was full of men, women and children who made their living on this shore. We had nothing more to do than breaking our back here, but safely. Osmar Suárez Durán has a faded and upset expression on his face that I would associate with madness or some other pathology that escapes to me, which is near an insuperable nostalgia. All that ended long ago, but sometimes, amidst the quivering silence of the night, at about three in the morning, an hour so terribly in the middle of nowhere, when I’m lying there on my ranch alone, I feel how the bananas unexpectedly begin falling from a ship and into the water, and I also feel how when the ropes are thrown to the dock for being tied for downloading to start. Then I put my fingers between the sheets but they slip and never grab the ropes and then I get out of bed and sink the fingers into the ground that is harder than a trunk, but pain takes me away from those sounds coming from the shore, so I stop hearing and lose myself in a old torpor at the foot of the bed in a bitter stupor ending with the day, which has cleared my bones and left this dislocation in my face and life.
Osmar Suárez Durán is still talking but I can not hear him because I’ve left running in a tremor that shakes my knees. I have escaped because you must beware of other people’s nostalgia, it is healthy; you should avoid them, never face them or question them. You can not take the risk, in any way, of getting other people’s nostalgia. I thank him, but it’s late and the truck should come at any time and I may not see it. Then he asks me for a cigarette, and I awkwardly look into my pockets and take out a crumpled box of Titans and give him one, no more. He asks me for matches and I negatively answer. Suddenly he says: I will not waste your time any more, take care yourself, but write me a telegram and sent it to Osmar Suarez Duran, everyone here knows me. Write me saying anything. Please do not forget it. Then I reply I’ll write to him.
Then the truck came and right there I begin to understand some things. Mata Bay: banana port of Protestant, Baptist orientation, which in the 1950s was commanded by Americans who lived in beautiful two-story wooden houses. And I think, as if I had any right to do so, in Osmar, I think of when he was a child and his childhood ha s now the persistent shape of this deserted bay. He c ontinues back to me when the truck starts , watching four or five ships that sail the sea. Osmar is a narrow back boy who tightly ties the largest ship to a post and who picks up some bananas that have accidentally fallen u nder the ropes. The truck is moving full of boys who whistle and yell things I do not understand. They all have born here, in this place that clearly no longer exists. One of them suddenly tells me the movies ¨Miel para Oshun¨ was filmed there, and adds they are not so screwed and asks me not to look at them in that way, that I should get out of there. His skin is slightly tanned but he is under twenty. Osmar, the old man, is there on the beach, he was the one who cleaned all the sand, from that point to the other. And I try not to hear him, and keep looking to the road. The kids shout louder. The one that talked to me tells Osmar did the job seven days. They paid him a thousand pesos.
PS: I have never sent a telegram to anyone because I have never wanted to do it, and I do not see why making an exception like that at this point in my life. But if anyone ever dares to do it for me, he must know that my order would be this and not another: To and Osmar Suarez Duran: I know that I ran away. But I feel boatloads in the evening. Greetings. Olga.