Celia recently turned 20 years old. Since age 15 she has been in a non-formalized marriage. She is a preschool teacher. Two years of study were enough for her to get the title.
When the Revolution put out the call, she was in ninth grade, and stepped forward. They needed teachers. In the bargain they gave her a short time of studies and a monthly stipend of 110 pesos in national currency.
But those making the offer didn’t foresee that she had no talent and no patience to tolerate “the bad behavior of those unbearable kids.” After eight months she stopped going to work. “Too much work for such a little pay,” she says to explain the reasons she didn’t complete her social service. She stopped going period, nobody cared, and nothing happened.
Today things have changed for her. She is forced to be a housewife. Her husband doesn’t let her work. At home, the division of labor is well-defined: he takes care of all the financial needs and she takes care of all domestic tasks. He commands and she obeys.
There are no checks and balances. As the young woman in the relationship, she makes no decisions, unless it is which day to wash clothes and at what time to cook. She is dissatisfied, but accepts her subordinate role. Her husband is stubborn and imposes his will on her by taking extreme positions: obey or end the relationship.
The former is more comfortable. She doesn’t have to worry about where the money comes from. But at the same time she feels empty, wanting to do something that gives her satisfaction. She wants to be an independent woman, but if you ask her what she’d like to do, she doesn’t have an answer.
Celia has not yet decided her vocation. She dreams of working and making a living for herself, but doesn’t know how to realize her dream. In her mind there are no overriding plans or future projects for her life. She thinks about the second option. She knows that if she works in the street, their relationship will end.
She analyzes the opportunities she has. She knows that the salary of a state employee is barely enough to get by. She would have to go home to her parents and contribute to the upkeep of the household. She would also lose her privacy, sharing a room with two of her four sisters.
It is paradoxical that a young woman in a country that gives her free access to studies and a chance to succeed, prefers to subjugate herself, rather than assert her rights as a woman and a human being. It is sad that a nation’s economic situation, where legally and formally there is gender equality, prevents women from realizing their full potential.
It is a shame, that conformity and resignation kill aspirations. The evil afflicts Celia and many young Cubans today, a kind of unbridgeable gulf between dreams and real life, a vacuum they cannot identify or try to cross.
Translated by : Mari Mesa and Tomás A.