What is bad luck? I can explain it to you. It’s that, at the age of only 7 years, you suffer an unexpected accident. Imagine your youngest sister going up a hill. A two-ton stone with the shape of a horse captures her attention. She gets on top of it and begins to sway herself on it, pretending to be riding a horse through a field. She then grows tired and upon unmounting, the rock begins rolling downwards at an alarming and quick rate of speed. You, lying at the edge of the river, face up, are entertained while you search for names within the clouds.
Screams, pain, and your leg under that immense rock. Suddenly, an irresistible sleep, your eyes close and you can no longer see the clouds, just an immense darkness in the profound empty space. You bear the cross of disability, you no longer go by the name of Maria, now they call you “the cripple.” You are the third child of a couple who had fourteen kids. You live in the midst of the Sierra Maestra (a massive mountain range in Eastern Cuba). Ironically, you were looking after your 4-year old sister when she decided to climb on that steed of a rock. Necessity and misery in that huge family.
Twelve years old and you still drag that leg. It is far too much work to try to reconstruct those damaged bones. The fourth surgery in five years, months of recovery in between one and the other. Very little study, you barely know how to read or write. The doctors decided to operate on you again. An error has occurred, your tendons have not completely developed yet. Your legs are dis-proportioned. One is skinnier than the other.
Your first love or a ticket to freedom, you are confused. It turns out it was just a drunk scoundrel who was annoyed by the screams of his newborn son. You return home but nothing is the same, you don’t have money to buy milk for your two kids. Water and sugar to nurse your young one. He is very thin and weak. Grandpa gives you 5 pesos. First you had to satisfy his morbidity. You run to the store to buy the necessary food for your kids. It’s difficult because you are limping. On one arm you carry the infant, who is barely 3 months old. In the other hand, your heavy bag, and hanging off the end of your arm your other son who is 2 years of age.
A man observes you and gallantly offers help. Relieved from not bearing so much weight, you walk home together. Three days go by and you travel to the capital together. Your second marriage and you feel scared; but there is no other way. Time to start a new life! What craziness! But this was the only path you could find in order to save your youngest child from malnutrition.
– Enough, don’t tell me anymore, I understood that it is bad luck.
– No, you have yet to find out. Bad luck is when, with a dark destiny, you lose the desire to fight it.
Translated by Raul G.