Give Me Light
June 9, 2012
HAVANA TIMES — This past Saturday the lights went out at home, so I had
to wish my husband a happy 26th birthday as he woke up in bed soaking in
The fan had gone off at 7:00 a.m., which made me think that this was due
to some transformer having melted down or a car having hit a utility pole.
I was hoping that it would only take a couple hours for whatever it was
to be fixed.
In any case, we left the house to buy some food to share with friends
who would be coming over that night to spend some time with us.
But after four hours of being without power, the water also went off and
I picked up the phone.
I learned that several areas in the Alamar neighborhood were without
electricity that morning. Over in Santo Suarez they had been without
electricity since the previous night.
This all made sense of the recent statements by the Spanish oil company
Repsol concerning their having come up dry in their first attempt to
drill a well in Cuban waters.
What also came to mind was a recent message in Mujeres magazine that
read, "For energy conservation, your opinion is important – and your
actions even more so."
The word "conservation" inevitably refers to the word "shortage" and the
scarcities then lead to hoarding.
I thought about candles, and hoarding candles, since I can't afford a
I found some less expensive candles on Arroyo Street. The saints of
African religions apparently aren't so demanding, so practitioners can
buy candles at their religious stands for only three pesos in national
currency (about 12 cents USD).
I got in line and joined in some light hoarding, picking up three white
When I got home I tried waiting for the return of electric current by
reading a book by Virgilio Piñera: Pequeñas maniobras (Minor Maneuvers),
but I couldn't concentrate.
The memories of blackouts throughout my childhood and adolescence were
Memories came to mind of suffocating heat, mosquitoes (dengue-carrying
ones or not), water shortages, reeking bathrooms in multifamily
buildings, warm drinking water and being unable to quench one's thirst.
Playing around making shadows on the wall isn't enough to serve as an
escape strategy when you're 24
Twelve hours passed without the orderly flow of electrons, we prepared
the food, and used up the last bottle of water.
Night came and so did our friends, while I continued to be nervous.
My worst memory of blackouts is waking up in the middle of absolute
darkness and feeling trapped, unable to locate myself in space, not
knowing if I was blind or dead.
At 8:30 the lights finally came back on, therefore we were able to eat
and have a few drinks in peace.
Now I'm trying to stop thinking about some pending nighttime blackout,
but the fact that they've begun to spread throughout the city daily
doesn't help much.