Rebeca Monzo, Translator: BW
In the neighborhood of Vedado, there was a prestigious store where they
prepared food for delivery to homes (gourmet service). After some years
of abandonment, in the year 1966, in the same place, a beautiful
English-style red cake restaurant was opened, called The Little Rabbit
(El Conejito), where they sold all kinds of dishes exquisitely
ready-made from the meat of this little animal. Soon the cozy and
handsome local place was celebrated for the quality of its offerings and
its friendly environment.
Getting a reservation for it became an arduous task. The only way to get
one was to call by telephone looking for an available opening.
Sometimes, you could spend all day and not succeed in getting connected,
because there were hundreds of calls taking place almost in unison.
There were some who were lucky and got ahold of them right away, but
they were in the minority. Others spent up to two days trying, and when
finally they got a time, they called on precisely the same day that they
couldn't go, or that they didn't want to eat rabbit. Although those
cases were the most rare, because it was so scarce that food any day was
good and if, by chance, you were sick, it didn't matter, you wouldn't
eat but bring a bag, and throw the rations in a little sack, to bring
home like a trophy and share with the rest of the family, since the
reservation that you had secured was for a table for two.
I tell you this, because your great-grandmother lived in another
neighborhood, in a very beautiful house with a lovely garden, where the
principal decoration was a pretty white rabbit with red crystal eyes. It
was so well made that the little animal seemed real. Everyone that
passed by in front of the house, stopped a few seconds looking at it as
if they were waiting, for any moment, for the rabbit to jump. But it
seemed to be a happy thing, enjoying its inertia in the green grass.
One day, your great-grandmother heard a discussion at the wrought iron
grille door at the entrance to the house, and when she went out to see
what had happened, she saw a man and a woman arguing vehemently. As soon
as they noticed her presence, without wanting it, they involved her in
the discussion, the man asking her the following question: "Lady, do you
believe that woman should behave like that with me, when I only wanted
to make a joke?" "I don't understand," Mama Nene answered. Then the
angry woman intervened, "Look, this man here, my husband, told me: put
on your elegant black dress; I am going to take you to the Little
Rabbit. And look where he brought me?"
Don't put it like that, my mom said. He only wanted to play a joke.
"Listen lady, what joke are you speaking about, he made me hurry to wash
and iron the only elegant dress that fit me. You don't do that to
anyone, much less to me that has to whip up a dish every day to put on
My mom, embarrassed by what just happened and feeling a little to blame
for being the owner of the controversial little rabbit, told them to sit
on the porch and brought them each a little cup of steaming hot coffee.
Now more calm, the couple were sent off apologizing and thankful for the
attentiveness given out by the owner of the house.
Years later, someone tried to steal the rabbit and broke it trying to
dig it up, fleeing without accomplishing his objective, and leaving it
damaged in the garden. My mother moved it to a corner of the patio, and
since then it has been forgotten waiting to be repaired. The same has
happened to the famous restaurant that has turned into a low-class one.
Both rabbits can say, they shared almost the same luck.
Translated by: BW
June 21 2011