Dripping River Water


the last days September 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 11:57 pm
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I am going to miss this.  Ramadan.  I was shy in the beginning.  Not wanting to tell people it was my first.  But when I looked out into the horizon and caught a glimpse of the crescent moon I couldn’t help but want to savor that moment.  I still see it.  The fog rolling in, the oranges and peaches of the sky.  I can still feel how my heart expanded that first night, the first early rise for suhoor.  I made eggs and veggie sausages and toasted some spelt muffins for my friend and I.  I felt like a mother.  Like my mother when she used to wake up before dawn to make breakfast for my father.  I woke up as well.  This is what daughters of bakers do.

I’ve been wanting to write words on long walks through Berkeley.  Words on my body.  Wrapped around so I won’t forget them.  There are different fonts I like but on my body I want it typed like a typewriter.  Each click, a new memory.  I am not going to India.  Not yet.  I am going to Cuba instead, inshaAllah.  There I can sit with my Tía Rosa.  I can make her coffee, tell her don’t worry I will get the water from the well.  I will have ear plugs this time so I won’t wake up when the giant pigs across the street are being weighed.  They sound like aliens.  I will miss the clacking of the horse hoofs in the middle of the night but I will be able to dream.  Maybe I will be able to dream stories.  Stories like my mami used to tell me on Saturday nights.  She no longer repeats those stories over and over again.  She has been in the United States for almost 40 years now.  More years than living in Cuba.

I am saving my words for Cuba.  They are tucked away in my heart.  In between coffee making and salat I will write, inshaAllah.  This trip seems better than India.  I will speak like a Cuban again.

I tell my family my Ramadan stories.  I feel like a child again.  It is a full circle for me.  Everything my mami taught me I am relearning.  Sometimes I am shy to say that I cry when I realize how much I love God.  Like a child.  I am in my purest state.  The other night I had anxiety regarding things of this life.  I was pmsing.  Sometimes it feels like the end of the world.  Before I went to bed I said la ilaha illa Allah over and over again.  I said it until I cried.  I said it until my heart was pounding so hard I felt it coming out of my chest.  I said it until I realized that all I need is God.

I want the words typewritten on my body so I can remember this month.  Remember what I have learned, the breakthroughs I’ve had, the beautiful people I have communed with.  I want to remember this because it is my first.  I took my shahada a few days after Ramadan ended last year.  Two days after my birthday.  My 33rd year.  Some people call it the Jesus year.  A spiritual year.  It was an amazingly spiritual year for me, mashaAllah.  Maybe I won’t miss it.  The words are tucked away in my heart.  They will spill unto the page and the memories will surface.  I can take everything that I have learned and implement them, inshaAllah.  I finally understand what going with the flow means.  It is me, just like this.

the end.


Tía Rosa September 2, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 8:22 pm
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She has a painting of Fidel in her living room.  He was young in his trademark green.  Tía Rosa loves Fidel so much that she doesn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t like him.  He has given maternity leave to women for a whole year, she told me once.  I smiled.  I couldn’t tell her that he is not perfect.  She wouldn’t understand the concept of loving someone in all their complexities. To her there is nothing complex about Fidel.

She is the one that stayed.  The one with a chest full of revolutionary medals.  I am not sure if she ever picked up a rifle.  She must of.   At least once.  Tía Rosa received medals for her outstanding work in education.  Education is revolution.

In all my trips to Cuba I have learned, don’t hate the people, just hate the government.  That is what my family tells me about the US.

Tía Rosa’s husband died this past May.  They bickered constantly.  I used to wonder if they still loved each other.  Then every now and then I saw the look they gave each other.  She misses his voice, the way he walked with his cane.  She misses his scent in bed.  I wonder where his things are.  Is his comb still left by the bathroom or did she give it away?  In Cuba nothing gets thrown out.  Not even pain.

My cousin wrote to me today asking me to call her more often because she always feels better when she hears from one of us in the states.  He wrote me that she spends her days so sad and alone.  No husband to take care of, her children now in their fifties and not all the grandkids remember to visit.  Except him, of course, he visits her and is greeted with her wails and tears.  His words pulled at my heart.  It’s sad when the matriarch feels all alone.  It is not suppose to be that way.

Awhile back she told us that she wanted us to start the paperwork so she could come for a visit.  People over 60 years old can leave the island for a period of time.  I never thought Tía Rosa would want this but she wanted her sisters.  She’s the one that stayed.  Mami and Tía Cheffy left.  Tío Nene did, too, but he died a long time ago.  A shot in the head.

I did the first step.  A phone call to the embassy.  She was given a date to be interviewed.  December 23, 2010.  I called in 2008.

Tía Rosa is 78 and her biggest worry right now is that she will die before she will get to visit.  I try to call the embassy every so often but each call costs $11.  Each time they tell me they can’t move up her date.  I called Tía Cheffy in Miami she said she has heard that there are ways to do it.  How much?, I asked.  She said she would find out tomorrow.  It doesn’t matter where you are money moves everything.

I am thinking I should go to Cuba soon and spend some time with her.  I am not sure.  I have to wait and see.  I think about how I want to go to take care of her but all she will want to do is take care of me.  She will sit right next to me and make me eats mounds of food.  She will wash my clothes and get water from the well.  I will say, please, please, let me do something and she will give me the task of making coffee.  Maybe she’ll let me get water from the well.  Maybe but just once.  She will see how long it will take me and not understand that I need to practice in order to get better.  She will get live chickens to feed me and toilet paper.  They only use toilet paper when I am there.  The rest of the time it is ripped up newspaper.  I tried it once.  I prefer toilet paper.

I will call again tomorrow, inshaAllah, maybe they can move up her date.  Then I will call her, inshaAllah and tell her good news or no news.  She will cry and tell me about her loneliness.  I will cry, too.  I won’t say anything about me wanting to go there.  I still have to wait and see but I think it might be a good idea.  I can write in between making coffee and hearing her stories.  I can hitchhike my way to a town an hour away for jummah with the new Cuban Muslims.  I can find a river to swim in.  Maybe the one my mami used to swim in as a child.  We will see, inshaAllah.

the end.