The Cauldrons of Librada

by: Jesús Arencibia Lorenzo

Los calderos de Librada (Foto Yohana Pérez Monrabal)

You can give up gold.
Never to the golden dream.
Jesús Orta Ruiz
(Indian Naborí)

It is a flashing ristra, an impeccable row of gleaming aluminum and iron, hung high with neatness and millimetric enjoyment. Underneath, on a table, also metallic, another of the vessels, no less lustrous, is allowed to warm the entrails to boil white milk, milked that day.
“The Cauldrons of Librada,” Yohana, his daughter, tells me, as he spreads his cell phone with a smile of pride, which dawns on his face. And I, who do not know Librada, nor do I know of her more than her status as a good woman, excellent mother, demanding housewife and neighbor of kilometer 14 of the pine forest road to La Coloma – a rural place of the many Macedonians who inhabit the island; I who know nothing of their tastes, worries or develos, immediately feel a stream of admiration and pride in that row of mineral purity.
In the Cuban countryside, at the top of all the hardships, a hallmark of many humble dwellings is the brilliance of its cauldrons. It can be a wooden cottage, with a punctured ceiling and a wood or charcoal stove planted as a monarch in the kitchen or backyard; but the cauldrons, that smoldering roundness around which the family grows, at the stroke of rolls of wire or scouring pins with sand and ash, do not let their brightness fall.
“Everyone has their role,” says Yohana, my friend and colleague, and points to the most protruding background. “That’s for the stew, ” sentence. And I can already imagine the Jaranera family, headed by Librada and Jorge Luis, around the table, serving the words and affections next to the portentous broth, and sharing the honesty of the bite even with the friends and neighbors who pass and want to join.

And yes, there may be a lot of overburdening for women and patriarchal injustice and anachronistic prejudices replicated for centuries in the villages of the inland. But also, I sense, there is a certain happiness, a simple and courageous way to face life – which is not prescribed on Facebook, nor is it called
Every day, when Jorge Luis desenyugates the oxen, at so many o’m night, and his wife banishes before sleeping the tizne that stuck to his cauldrons, something in the harmony of the home will be left again in place, to face, with the sun, the new horizons. Another simple and decisive battle “freed” and won in love. Ω

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