The Amnesia of Coca Cola
May 24, 2012
HAVANA TIMES — My son is sad because his best friend Leo, who now lives
in Miami, — despite their having shared years and games, secrets and
dreams, despite their last embrace, teary eyes and attachments that made
them exchange e-mail addresses and promises — he has not sent a message.
It was as if the plane he took was swallowed by the abyss of the
"beyond," and with it the excitement of exploring a world that until
that moment seemed inaccessible, now approachable by sight.
I consoled my son as best I could. I told him that at first there's a
gleam that dulls the longing, and that he should understand that Leo was
experiencing very turbulent times.
After all, he is a teenager who spent four years without seeing his
father (who had left Cuba on a raft). Now Leo was now emigrating for
family unification with his mother and sister. His reuniting,
recognition and acceptance — and all in a huge country — would have to
Still, after that initial hypnotic daze would come the feeling of
absence and then Leo would write for sure, I told him.
But now it has been four months. Mutual friends and my son himself have
gone from expectation to doubt, defiance and impotence. It seems that
now they don't expect anything.
Sometimes they might mention him, but only to recall some prank or
incident, or to reaffirm that "He's a wimp. Who would have guessed he
couldn't withstand the 'amnesia of coca cola.'"
Leo left in November. Myself, being in Paris at that time, I couldn't
say goodbye. But in December I was here, and with affection and tears I
was able to embrace my neighbor Jaime, my only trustworthy neighbor,
friend and fellow "dissident" conversationalist.
It had been with him that I had been able to share boredom, anger and
hopes. He was the one I would turn to for a little urgently needed salt,
two fingers of oil or a sip of coffee. He would ask to read my articles
or look at my husband's paintings, and I could feel his pain almost more
than my own.
He too left for Miami and the two of us also exchanged promises and
e-mail addresses. Following that, I went through that same initial
hypnotic daze, the time necessary to shake off the stupor, to prepare
for any re-contact.
But he hasn't written to me, not even in response to my email. My sister
in Miami, who was expecting a package from him with photos and letters I
sent, has also gone from expectation to doubt, to defiance and
impotence. Me — who had made a thousand votes of confidence on his
behalf, vouching for his seriousness and his loyalty — I now find those
When I see his best friend and former neighbor — who's also upset — he
tells me that he hasn't received a call from Jaime either. I don't know
what to say. I avoid looking at the empty balcony, the closed door or
the place in the yard where he would sometimes play with his cat.
I also remember someone I met years ago who also left for the United
States. When they came back on a visit to Cuba they did me the favor of
picking up some letters I had written to members of my family there.
Once this person told me that many people to whom he enthusiastically
delivers their letters seem to have no reaction. "Some don't want to
take them. They'll tell me, 'Throw them away, I don't want to hear from
That wasn't my case, but I couldn't help but to shudder when I thought
about the hopes of those who are still here.
I know that no soda pop has the power to erase memory, to cool off
emotional warmth and affection. But here, I understand that one can come
to believe in a sinister phenomenon of amnesia triggered by the fact of
crossing that blue line…
And like in antiquity it's the same one that defines the limits of an
earth that is flat – and that whoever crosses the horizon will certainly