A few days ago I faced for the first time one of the predicaments in which you can find any Cuban grandfather today, look for a toy for a granddaughter who lives far away, in a country of the so-called “first world”. I have been convinced that finding one for the one next to us is also a titanic task, sometimes because of non-existence and sometimes for prices. Caperucita and Pinocchio can cost “like” the aging Peugeot in Paseo Galleries. The division of the family for more than one reason has led to difficult issues to digest from the perspective of our traditions, the thorniest of all, without a doubt, is usually the barrier of language. Any grandparent may find it heartbreaking not being able to communicate, or interact properly with the continuity of his family. After he becomes a father, he dreams of being a grandfather and giving tenderness to the offspring. The act of wanting to give them a toy is normal, even vital.
After a tireless search, with no result and almost about to give up, I made a determination to turn my efforts around, I looked no further in any store. I went to some friends, professionals in the world of props, masters in props for television, theater and film. I told them about my situation and asked them to help me. At the time the workload they had was very large, but somehow I compromised them, at least I got in response to my request a: “We’ll see what’s invented.” I confess that I left there thinking that I would start meeting mine, distant, carrying empty hands, but trust in friends gave me peace of mind.
The days passed and I had no news, I didn’t want to disturb either, the television is very dynamic and I had seen them working on a complex project, precisely for children. Two days before my departure the phone rings and a familiar voice told me on the other side, “Don’t you plan to come pick up your granddaughter’s gift?” Joy enged me doubly, for the gift and for confirming that good friends never fail. We agreed I’d pick him up the next day. After the conversation ended I realized that I did not ask about what they had made, so for me it would also be a surprise.
I went looking for the present as agreed. Before long I saw myself in front of María Fernanda – or simply Fernanda – friendly animated creation of Mario Rivas who since 2013 delights children and adults in our country.
It wasn’t a high toy gift, but I was satisfied. She wore something different and very Cuban than a cyber-girl who lives in another reality, surrounded by how much novel toy can exist. I didn’t see her in person for a little over a year and at the time she was still very young.
I confess I didn’t worry too much about thinking about whether or not you would like my present, but I was curious to see your reaction. I prepared with my hands the packaging to withstand twenty-three hours of travel and transit through different airports. The singular doll made the journey next to my feet, there was no problem with it. She traveled to the other side of the world without a visa or passport, did not pass special checks, nor did they look at her with a strange face at any point of immigration, no one tried to make the most of it by assuming a grandfather’s desire to arrive with the novelty before his granddaughter. Fernanda must have something special to have gone undefeated by such complex challenges for a Cuban today.
After the arrival at my destination, already accommodated, I gave him the gift. Several family members were present. Everyone, to motivate the girl, exclaimed, “Wow! He received it with the joy that a boy always shows before a new toy. I remained expectant, perhaps more so than she was waiting for the gift. It was at that very moment that I was shocked, I will never forget the “Fernanda!” that came out of his lips. I didn’t understand anything, how could I know the character’s name? She had a little rubbing with her to understand why the girl knew the cuban animated detective, sang in a rudimentary but understandable Spanish, Cuban children’s songs and knew her paternal grandparents perfectly.
The reason lay in the preservation of the human factors of Cubanity in the father, which have gradually been transferred to the daughter naturally, without trying to impersonate her own identity. Another important issue is the proper use of Social Media. On YouTube you can find most of the Cuban children’s lively and children’s songs, from the old Gatico Vinagrito of the unforgettable teacher Teresita Fernández, song of my childhood times, to the current stories of Fernanda. This reaffirms the sociological theory that Social Media is worth it, which is worth the individual behind them.
No one, because they’re away from their home country, loses their identity. This is only hidden by the one who wants to do it, often for convenient reasons, tears, grudges or disinterest. Nor is it necessary to wear the lone star tattooed on his forehead to prove that he has not ceased to be Cuban. That is a condition that is assumed or not, each person is free to do it at his will and that must be learned to respect it. As my century-old grandmother used to say, “everyone should know how to carry their jolongo.”
The pitiful thing about it is that in Cuba none of these materials are found in stores or bookstores, but it is easy to buy with any record seller on their own the animated foreign that is desired. There is also no production of toys that reproduces our children’s characters. Is this an economic problem, creativity or will? Someone must have the concrete answer to these questions, although everything leads to the thought that the cause is multifactorial and can become even convenience. The formation of an individual begins from the cradle and if from that moment it is presented to Donald Duck, it is difficult to get Pitusa and Eusebio to sing one day.
Meeting loved ones far away is always a source of satisfaction. Being able to see the Fernanda doll built into my granddaughter’s everyday games fills me with rejoicing. Living this experience has also been of invaluable value from a professional point of view. For any sociologist, meeting with sectors of emigration, in the very environment in which they lie, is something enigmatic and important. The one I have had the opportunity to see in Australia – and not just in the family setting – is very peculiar, closely linked to cultural issues and is somewhat apathetic to political issues, but that is material for other work. Now, with the permission of the readers, I am going to turn away from all these matters in order to dedicate myself to enjoying the family moment that has been given to me, I hope you will understand me, but first I will entrust you – at last – with the great dilemma that haunts this grandfather, the next time I come, how am I going to be able to get two gifts? Ω