Never Belonging: Random Reflections on My Last Visit to Cuba

Matanzas 17Returning to the land which witnessed my birth is always a gut-wrenching experience. Separation from my island has now been five times longer than Odysseus’ was from his. But unlike Odysseus, who was returning to a place he was familiar with, I am attempting to piece together some type of rootedness upon the shifting sands of my parents’ false memories (sí, porque los bichos no picaban, y los mangos eran más dulce; yes, because the bugs were not biting, and mangoes were sweeter).

Every Cuban over a certain age lives with a particular trauma caused by the hardships of being a refugee. Homesickness for a place that was never home, mixed with nostalgia, romanticization and an unnaturally-taught hatred towards various actors blamed for our Babylonian captivity contributes to the trauma of not having a place, of not ever being able to visit one’s grandmother’s garden to eat mangos from its trees, nor enjoy the gentle sea breezes.

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