Looking For the Guilty
Heaven and earth came together for Danay when Lester, her ex-spouse, confessed to her with tremendous calm that he didn’t love her. He tried everything to save his 10 month-old marriage. The young lady, until yesterday a Christian, lost faith in God and in man. Today she is looking for the guilty party who left her with the bitter aftertaste of feeling used.
Danay de la Caridad Gonzales is 17-years-old. Since she was little her parents raised her in the dogma of the Protestant Christian religion. Today she resides in Mantilla, a marginal neighborhood of Arroyo Naranjo, the poorest area in the City of Havana.
Lester Martinez is 23-years-old and is a native of Palma Soriano, in Santiago de Cuba. He’s been living in the capital illegally for three years. The biggest test of his love for her was that he should convert to her religion, despite the scant grace that God gave her and her bony body, which gives her away as a legitimate child of the “Special Period”.
God put them together in a simple ceremony before the parishioners of her church. They lived together in one of the rooms of the girl’s parents’ house. A housing unit constructed on what had been, years before, a garbage dump. A few meters away, the streams of the neighborhood’s sewers run. The authorities declared the area unhealthy.
To conform to the laws of God and man, it only remained to legalize Lester’s situation in the capital. His having come from another province in the country required that processing take place according to what was set out in Decree 217/97 of “Migratory Regulations for the City of Havana.”
There was a detail the youths didn’t count on. According to the rules of the decree, the local authorities don’t recognize a home as having a “permanent character” when the housing unit located in the capital is in an unhealthy zone. The unconditional love of Danay could not prevent Lester putting an end to the relationship. It wasn’t known if God or the rules of Decree 217/97 wanted it that way.
“Why did you marry me?” asked Danay. The young man arrived at the capital in search of better living conditions. However, it was impossible for him to get the 150 pesos of convertible currency together that they charge for making the change of address official. Because of this, he couldn’t continue his studies nor could he work legally.
Lester was tired of living the gypsy life. Avoiding the fines imposed by Decree 217/97, he spent three months around Bejucal, and another three in Mantilla, in the house of the cousins who’d helped him get settled in the big city, the one he couldn’t know nor enjoy for fear that he might be recognized by a policeman and be deported to his place of origin.
Nothing justifies deceit, Danay decreed. She looked at the sky and asked “Where were you, God, that you didn’t spare me this deception? Why did you permit me to be used this way?” Then she looked at the ground and, with irony, said to the young man, “Until death do us part, or until you realized you couldn’t change your address?”
The Lord lost a sheep from His flock and Lester, despite his guilt, learned that it wasn’t enough to marry a resident of the capital to make his change of address official, and with that to exercise his right to free circulation and residency.
He’s still reluctant to return to his home province. In the future, he will remember that his future wife must reside in a healthy zone and in a housing unit with minimum conditions insisted upon by the migratory regulations of the City of Havana (more than 25 square meters of livable space plus 10 for each co-resident).
Danay feels victimized by everyone, at least by those who put Decree 217/97 into effect; a rule that turns a Cuban into an illegal in his own country. The same one that lets Lester, as a means of legalizing his situation in the capital, marry with or without love.
Translated by: JT
January 8 2011