The happiest moment of my life
It was on my fifth and last journey to Havana to be with my beloved Victor, the man who I had grown to love, that I experienced my happiest moment in the Noughties.
Victor was a fascinating individual. A poet, philosopher, writer, Reiki healer (taught be a Chinese master), faith healer in the Centro community of Havana, cartoonist, linguist, English and Russian language professor, translator, ecologist and much more!
One Sunday afternoon we went to a Central Havana musical event at a local performers' venue. There were several professional singers taking the stage in a vibrant ambience. Victor, being a singer himself, was known to the Community of talented singers and musicians. He was friends with the guitarist-cum-singer wearing a large brimmed hat and a waistcoat specially dressed for his performance!
We were invited back to his friend's home spontaneously. Home was a minuscule room in a dilapidated concrete block built by the Russians in the 60s. Depressing was the only word to describe the building with echoing corridors and lots of doors leading to a warren of small studio rooms. The bed, if there was one, was on a split level above the floor often the case in Cuba to create another level for sleeping. Here he lived with his actress wife in a simple musical environment with photos of himself performing and music sheets adorning the naked walls.
We were immediately invited to eat the stew which was on the boil simmering away with the addition of the inevitable rice. Not much food to go round but as Cuban culture is to share what you have with your comrades, we were warmly welcomed.
Suddenly our host burst into song playing his guitar. Then Victor rose and began to sing the famous Bolero 'Dos Gardinas'. He was magical. I adored my Victor!
Then a TV film maker arrived with his girlfriend who was a journalist for Cuban radio. Not knowing he was filming, I was captured on video laughing several times! I hadn't laughed from Happiness in my life before. Then at least eight neighbours arrived joining in singing and clapping. I was almost crying from Euphoria! Never had I witnessed a spontaneous singing community before. Everyone was singing Boleros that were so famous that the whole nation could sing them. After all Boleros, like Mambo and Cha Cha Cha come from this amazing controversial island! Most Cubans can sing, dance and play an instrument. Everyone creative is multi talented and spontaneous.
I shall never forget that lingering happy Sunday afternoon never to be repeated. Friendship and love is unseen in England with the exception of Wartime when we, Brits lived intensely for the moment not knowing if tomorrow would ever come. Remember - the best things in a Life are free!
Jilliana Ranicar-Breese - Brighton and Istanbul May 2015.