Natural Craftsman

15 May

I only know his name is Robert, a natural craftsman.  A friend of mine introduced him to me one summer afternoon. He makes useful objects, like belts, purses, bags, and key chains from empty packets of the Piñata soft drinks sold in Cuba. He learned to do this from prisoners, who are very creative.  He did not speak throughout the entire afternoon, “I am behind on some orders, buddy,” he said and continued tearing strips of metallic paper.

Robert’s work brought smiles to the more humble mothers a few days ago when they received their gifts.  He earned a few pesos to feed his own and buy his own mother something, because in any case, tenderness is the last quality to be lost. He is now racking his brain to invent something so in June fathers will have their own joy.  His task is difficult because in addition to knowing men don’t care for knick-knacks, he also has to contend with hellish police surveillance.

He has already seen an elderly man be fined 300 pesos and have his two strands of garlic confiscated, a woman having to go to court for selling plastic bags that in other parts of the world are used for carrying one’s purchases.  He knew about the checkpoints when exiting any town, about police on the road–which connects his small inland town to the seaside– who ask to see one’s national identity card and he is afraid the same could happen to him.

Translated by HEFA

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