2018 Chronicle Award- Betting on Life

Por Amado Aguilera Varga

When the need to live together prevailed, for my other half and for me it was a delightous challenge. My father, who at the time had a ruinous property in the capital (officially decreed as an uninhabitable repairable), welcomed us without hesitation. There was no shortage of burlesque aftertaste for this attempt at home: the shadowy mansion, the stick house, the cave of mysteries…

Long before, my other half had expressed his will to go with me, even if fate was the bottom of a bridge. I’ll never forget his face when he first stood in front of our burrow. Her expression was a silent cry that Edvard Munch himself would have a hard time painting it. I think she would have preferred the bridge.

Thus we began to live together; with abbreviated masonry, fixing when and with what could. Rushing a path crowded with obstacles (those obstacles my mother strives to call “the stones along the way”). Quite a few, not fair but too many stones, as if some architect of the universe had mistakenly inscribed me on the payroll as an expert in the construction of pedraplenes.

And it’s true that they’re not worth green guavas if evil is belly. At the end of An October, the hurricane that passed near the island – named equal to that of my mother-in-law, but different category – stripped us of the insufficient boards that were inventoried in the roof. Endless nights we spent under the stars, which was almost a romantic circumstance. And as if pretending to remembrate our pioneering scouting stages, we were an agency of a nylon blanket that sheltered us from the rain in that camp called real life.

My spiritual color blindness came to add to my physical color blindness in desperate attempts to put colors to very gray days.

That’s how we were when my other half’s preeze came up. It was that pregnancy you’ve been craving since you joined someone like her, but you always imagine in different conditions. We still give all concern and uncertainty to ineffable happiness.

From her embryo days, our little girl became a direct beneficiary of our love, and we called her – in those conversations you hold with the growing belly – by the name chosen before conceiving.

Early on, she harvested the avatars that resulted from being procreated by a woman who, having no official address in the capital of all Cubans, belonged to the guild of illegal residents. Although by force of sacrifice we tried not to find out that hunger was not optional for us.

My other half worked hard and I, for my part, did my best to fit as best as possible into a double role: By day I was a specialist in my company, and at night – on the left and better paid – the assistant in a bakery. Just to say that in terms of faith and much more, my other half has always far surpassed me.

Eleven months to live had our little girl when the suspicion of a new pregnancy came; possibility that I had not planned and that in notorious raving I considered catastrophic.

Unconfirmed, my other half traveled to our home province with the urgent and precise instructions of mine to solve “the problem”. Back he had a firm determination with him and the result of an ultrasound that was performed on him. The printed image corresponded to a fully formed being. My other half came to see more: heartbeat of a tiny and indefatigable heart, stating the resolve of our little one to be born to fulfill his purpose in life, God through.

I tried in absurd position to hold on to any possible argument that disapproved of that pregnancy; always in the name of common sense and the real situation we were in. I came to count – deplorably – more followers than detractors. I was even approached on one occasion by a neighbor who strutted with the disgusting verge of having sent eight creatures to the afterlife – as she put it – in addition to regulations and liking.

My other half remained invariable position. I have so much to thank for it.

Thus was growing that belly contoured by reproaches and heartbreak, while someone as the creator’s conduit assured us that all the children came with a bread under their arm.

With such little discernment I came to put so much privilege and fortune at risk that today I have the possibility of sizing human stupidity: particularly mine. I believed in all that lapse that I should write straight about lines that God had supposedly twisted for me. Suddenly one day, something like a reset of my soul happened and I rethinked everything. I began an unbridled race to recover from the responsibility I had spoiled until then. Although it is obligatory and sad to admit that for me another half that pregnancy was not as happy as it should have been.

Our little boy was born. I was there with tears of happiness that my remorse sought to be sorbered. At first glance, he was ugly and didn’t bring the blissful bread. But aureolate with a vitality that declared the opportunity to make me grow as a father and a human being.

Just meet him to make sure it’s a miniature replica with the exact nature of my character flaws. And genetics was responsible for instituting him as the universal heir to my fears. He has greed for knowledge and a contagious laugh when it comes to small evils. At the age of a few, he already holds the status of best friend, my confidant on children’s issues. We share a secret word that Mom and Sister can’t decipher. When we walk together we shake hands; whenever a situation seems to be unsettling, we execute a singular movement with our fingers together to tell us that everything is fine, because I am with him and he is with me.

She strives to be like me, which forces me to strive, pleasantly, to become the best of references.

Now that I enjoy watching him grow up, it’s judicious, I suppose, to wonder if I’m right to tell this story. I doubt anyone likes that. Me, less. And every time I tell it, there will be no need for someone in the spirit intransigent gang to judge her as the atonement of my faults. It’s okay. I don’t get a problem anymore. I learned in the most clumsy way that every plan in our lives is God’s faculty. And with the lesson, the task it is my turn to take care of this prodigious family, heritage that He has bequeathed to me.

It comforts me to know that it works like this: without breaks for providence. At this minute there will be a couple deliberating about abortion. The decision will be irrevocable. We took ours: my other half bet on life, and it turned out that I won too.

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