Havana - Cuba

When I spent a week in Havana, I truly felt that time falls away in this city. Every little detail I saw is graceful, beyond the nowness of our westernized world and globalization-driven societies. With every door I open in Havana, which resembles a nostalgic movie set, I see that the Cubans believe in goodness and unconditional happiness and experience the city’s energy that is kneaded with music.

 

Wandering around the sweet chaos of Havana, I started to see everything typical about this city. Emanating around the streets brimming with movement, sounds and colours, the nostalgic atmosphere is led by colonial structures and classic cars with stylish drivers waiting for their customers.

 

Here, life fills the streets; it’s as if there are no house doors but streets open up into the houses. People chatting by the stoop, playing dominoes with jokes, forming queues in front of the fruit stalls at the market, a family watching a football game on TV in a house with doors fully open, two little girls practising ballet moves in front of a fan… Each is like a frame that sums up the lives of the Cubans.

 

When I returned to my country, I read the poem “Straw-Blond” written by Nazım Hikmet again. But this time, every word he wrote reaches me in a totally different way:

 

“Can you paint happiness Abidin?
Can you paint Cuba in midsummer  1961
I saw a hand 150 kilometres east of Havana close to the sea
I saw a hand on a wall
the wall was an open song
the hand was seventeen years old and caressed Maria’s breasts
its palm was calloused and smelled of the Caribbean
you draw hands Abidin those of our labourers and ironworkers

draw with charcoal the hand of the Cuban fisherman Nicolas
who on the wall of the shiny house he got from the cooperative
rediscovered caressing and won’t forget it again
the hand of freedom without lies…”

© 2023 by Deniz Yılmaz Akman

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