For the last 30 years, she wakes up next to the same man. Every morning, the “good-day” kiss, the nightgown caressing the skin, the toc-toc of slippers towards the kitchen, the coffee making. In the room, while feeling the bubbling on the stove, her husband stretches the wrinkled sheets, arranges the pillows at the foot of the head and gently places the bedspread as a craftsman. When finished, a coin can roll from side to side without the restraint of a bend.
M Maura González Dorrego and Israel Dovales, Isra as everyone knows him -share life long before marriage; before even the courtship they held for six years. It all started in a pre-university boarding school in the Sandino municipality of Pinar del Rio, on the western end of the island. Then, she was a petite teenager and he a shy young man with black hair. It was also the fall of 1976.
Two years passed before the first kiss: after an “innocent” playfulness of students, their faces were so close that it was impossible not to join lips. The “friendship” had already taken a new path. But is guilty a river when it runs to the sea?
Thirty-six years later, they are walking very close together on the same path. Now they are both in the kitchen, getting ready before going to work. The kids are away in Pinar del Río. They have moved to an aunt’s house in Havana. So much has happened since they came into the classroom holding hands.
One night in 1985, Managuaco-a village outside Matahambre Mine, also in Vueltabajo-, he anxiously was waiting for The Mérida, a small band that would enlighten the town fiesta. In that place-at that time-the only entertainment was to count the palms until they disappeared into the hill. Any activity out of the ordinary was an event. “And the damned little group that doesn’t show up …” people were cursing when midnight was nearing.
In the maternal clinic in the municipality, a band took by assault the waiting room. Some time ago they had to be on the stage, making the dancers shake deliriously, but the drummer´s woman would give birth and he did not want to leave…
At 2 and 20 am, she finally gave birth to a healthy baby and pink boy: Israelito. He weighed eight pounds and a half. That morning, in Managuaco, drums and cymbals sounded with unusual joy. The following delivery, however, represented a silence for the sticks.
When the first child was already four years old, came into the world a couple of twins in the same moment the Berlin Wall fell. With the European troubles, tropical transportation evaporated wages caught anemia and he had to find other ways to keep the house, the wife and three boys.
How many things they had to do to survive? How much pea for coffee at breakfast? How much bitterness in the throats? With all that green have been riper, they maintain the habit of having together the first meal of the day.
Maura already sets the table while Isra scrubs the coffeemaker. To divide the housework, they have the timing of dance partners. Once seated, they talk; converse of the usual things, old dreams and new dreams, how good coffee is or last night soap opera was, the children, the first grandchild … So the question arises while sipping the black liquid:
– In our lives, how many cups of coffee have we shared at breakfast?
– God knows, woman! Multiply…
– Must be many. You know, all this time, you’ve never given me a flower, which I like…
They have known each other for so long that already looks supplant words. They paused briefly to continue the conversation with more trivial issues (ie, how to stretch their wages to make ends meet, how to find more revenue, how have the evening meal). And when they got up, she went to the kitchen and he took advantage of her absence to make an escape into the courtyard. That morning, when they left home, flower bush was desolate.