The afternoon of the cats

Por: Octavio Castillo Quesada

They lived in an apartment that has two rooms and a makeshift terrace, even without the license that should be granted by the physical planning center of the territory. Although with the basic comforts covered, the truth is that memories predominated more than luxuries. At first glance it was a family like any other in the Cuban capital; marked routines, consistent hierarchies, and poor social life. Rodrigo, a dedicated and sometimes demanding family man. Ana was his wife and mother of two children: Gonzalo, a teenager of about seventeen years old, and Lucia, a seven-year-old girl, mischievous and affectionate, the joy of the house.

Rodrigo spent his days working as a carpenter about five blocks from the building, in a place that he had bought last year with the savings obtained from the sale of some of his works. Ana was a housewife, always busy with household chores, with little time left. She had studied philology, but she decided to put down the books to dedicate herself completely to the care of her children while her husband, whom she married twenty-eight years ago, took care of the payment of the bills and looked after the financial needs. of home.

Her firstborn was going through one of the most difficult stages in anyone’s life, adolescence. Most of the time he locked himself in the room, which he shared with her sister, which caused conflicts between them every night and Lucia ended up playing in the middle of the room. Her dolls lived under the sofa her father rested on when he finished bathing after a long day at work; more than once they were dragged to the balcony for lack of space. So, to avoid discomfort, the girl ran to the window that had a view of the terrace and contemplated the flight of the birds, which gradually disappeared to make way for the night, and the occasional cat that came in search of food , almost always scared by their mother when preparing dinner.

The same thing happened every day. The routine of the house was maintained between work and rest, inside and outside of it. Difficulties were never absent. The father, burdened by the usual things, had acquired a robotic demeanor. As soon as he came home from work he would pick up the phone to solve certain work problems and plan the sales of the furniture he created. He carried on his back the full weight of the tastes and needs of his wife and children. A victim of stress, by his own decision he had decided to attend therapy at the beginning of the year, leaving the consultations early. The words of the psychiatrist still echoed in his head, that she did everything possible to help him, but in these situations the cooperation of the patient is essential, he said.

Gonzalo noticed his father’s lack of time and indifference when he returned home. He missed those conversations they had a few years ago when he taught her to use his tools after school. He remembered that it was his favorite moment of his day, he sacrificed his soccer games to spend time with him. He couldn’t understand how things had changed so much over the years. Still adapting to the new circumstances, he focused on trying to fit in with his peer group and his material demands were many, which, together with the pressure from the parents regarding studies, resulted in the boy preferring to stay on the sidelines of everything that happened in the house.

Lucia, like every evening before dinner, ran to the window. Her love for animals was remarkable; however, the physical conditions of her apartment prevented her from having a pet. On the sly, she would take a piece of bread and throw it across the terrace to attract the attention of the abandoned felines, who have long been her most pleasant company.

On the other hand, Ana prepared everyone’s food. Among dishes, towels and cleaning instruments she tried to remember some copies of universal literature that she had read in her youth, when she with great emotion decided to dedicate herself to the study of letters. She thought about how her time was so scarce, in the years she had not taken a book in her hands, at lunch the next day and in that concept that a psychologist on the radio mentioned with all the intention: “syndrome of the woman on – required “. He had seemed interesting to her and a part of her, from her subconscious, felt identified.

One day of so many while Ana was serving the table, Rodrigo arrived from the workshop consumed by fatigue and the worries that were already part of himself, when when he opened the door he stumbled on one of the little girl’s toys. He angrily he went to the kitchen. Ana was waiting for him with news. Her son had commented that he had no interest in taking the entrance exams to enter the university, explaining that his desire was to be a carpenter like his father. This, disgusted with the high and inconsiderate decibels that sounded in a neighbor’s house, lost his patience and took the plate served from his son, throwing it at once on the terrace.

Lucia was there, as always, at the window. This time she was covering her ears with her hands to escape the screams. Motivated by the smell of food, several cats sneak up on the terrace. The girl exclaims surprised, she had never seen so many animals coincide. Frightened, the rest of the family go to the window, the discussion ceases and they fix their gaze on the act that caused her daughter so much curiosity. Amazed, they unexpectedly notice certain similarities with the group of felines.

In their minds there were a series of images centered on the fact, on how these animals devoid of everything, through instincts and the odd emotion, were able to coexist and share without much arrangement, despite the fact that each of them faced difficult conditions. They were independent and at the same time able to stay together for as little time as it was, and yet they were happy.

Lucia smiles, takes the hands of her parents and silently thanks those who have been her companions for so long. For the first time, she felt that her life was more complete, the window that welcomed her, that afternoon was more than ever a reason for joy. She would forever remember that moment as a family, that afternoon with the cats.

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