Photo: Lupe, La Habana, 1973.
Paris, June 10, 2020.
Yesterday I got out of college at six in the afternoon with my colleague and friend, the cuban, Jorge. As always, we took the metro to return home. They had gone only two stops, when a splendid girl sat in front of us on the side of the window. Carlos turned pale and whispered: – It is not possible to… is it, is identical to it!
I couldn’t understand and only atiné to ask: – Who?
– Lupe, I replied.
The girl, about 18 or 19 years old, opened a book and started to read it. Slid his fingers over the pages as if the petted. We stayed in total silence. But Charles spent his view on her and admired with little concealment by the middle of the glass of the window – that as we were going through a dark tunnel-and reflected perfectly the beautiful face of the young. She got up and went towards the door of the wagon when we were arriving at the station of Saint Michel. Before going down looked at my friend and smiled at him, which will upset even more. We stayed as usual at the station Champ de Mars-Tour Eiffel, and, as I’ve always been a big curious, I invited him to a cafe to get something to drink, for you to tell me what had happened with the girl similar to the one that we just had to find in the metro.
We went to the Bar Suffren and there, Charles showed me a picture you keep in your wallet for 40 years, was worn around the edges. It is a copy of the original that you can see at the beginning of this letter and that you sent me today by e-mail. I asked if I could read the dedication. Me permission, but told me that he had written himself in that picture, that she had given him in 1973. I was surprised with what was written, because that is not what he imagined so romantic:
“Dear Lupe: before I met you, I did not know the greatness of the feeling that surrounds the word Love. Yours, George.”
The barman approached and we ordered two piña coladas. We were sitting in the comfortable butacones of the English bar, who was until recently the luxurious International Paris Hilton.
As I was authorized to do so, I’ll play what I narrated to my friend.
“I met Lupe in Havana, being very young, he was beautiful, his smile was radiant and above all, he had a few eyes splendid. Started a love story between teenagers who like all the love stories of that time consisted in: essays and Feasts of Fifteen, cinema, Coppelia, walks down The Ramp and its surroundings. But little by little I fell in love with her as he had never been. I remember the day that we got a downpour and got drenched on the sidewalk behind the Electricity Company of Carlos III and we don’t matter because we were together.
I spent countless times on the sidewalk of your home to see if she was sitting in one of the armchairs of the room, until he saw me and leaned on the railing. Through signs we were dating in Ten Cent of Galiano or in the Coppelita Seawall.
Thanks to a cousin of her, I managed to enter your home and talk with his mom, which was lovable. It was a lady bella who seemed to question me with his eyes. It was the first time in my life that I wanted to tell you: Lady I want to marry with your daughter! However not osé to say it; since I, like all young people of that time, lived added in the house of my parents.
Each parting was like a tear, our love story was intense, deep… until one day I fell in love with another girl also very beautiful. I didn’t want to lie to Lupe and I confessed that I was going to marry with another girl.
During all these years I’ve thought countless times how it would have been my life if I would have married her. I don’t know. Only God could know.
Two years ago she found me by Facebook and since then we have exchanged photos and messages. When I spent the last year in the U.S. I was able to see her and talk with her in a restaurant. We talk about everything except our old love story. She is still a beauty cuban and even today carries in his beautiful eyes the sky and the light of Cuba”.
While the monologue of my friend stretched on several occasions I saw that his eyes were wet. Looks good that Jorge has overcome the vicissitudes of their existence, managing to preserve the most exquisite and beautiful virtue that we can possess human beings: The capacity to love!
A big hug from The City of Light,
Félix José Hernández.
Note bene: This story appears in my book “Memories of Exile”. 370 pages. Les Éditions du Net, 2019. ISBN: 978-2-312-06902-9