Published by Moultavie
Format: Ebook, Paperback (14 March 2023)
A tropical island drenched in diverse cultures and peoples. A place of vibrant and dangerous liaisons. A country still in a time warp, its cities bathed in faded glory, its people still living an old man’s dreams.
Gina travels to Cuba for a long-awaited holiday. She wanders into paradise amid the lushness and enchantment of welcoming, smiling people, who celebrate her arrival by sacrificing a pig. As she witnesses its slaughter she begins to wonder if she too will become a part of this sacrifice.
She’s well travelled and thinks she is worldly wise, until by chance she meets a young Cuban in a darkened club in Havana. His beguiling eyes are more dangerous than a snake, his strike more deadly than its venom. He steals her mind and leaves behind a torrent of emotional destruction. But snakes twist and turn as they slither, and the ending of this story may not be as you imagine.
Constant murmurings and whispers of be careful, take care, cuidate, follow her.
She should have listened. She should have read the signs. She should have known better. What made her ignore all those warnings?
Thank You for The Kiss, a memoir, is a story inspired by real-life events, unexpected, powerful and shocking.
I walked across the expansive plaza filled with sunshine, with laughter and a smile; a breeze, its fingers brushing through my long brown hair. I felt carefree, alive. How could I know then that my curiosity, my vanity, my naivety, and my age, which should not have but did, lead me to a hell disguised as paradise? That seven months later, on a dark hot and humid night, I would be sitting on an old stone bench, under a watery-yellow lamp post, in anger and revenge. A black nemesis my new lover. That darkened corner of the square, edged with tall night-green trees, off- street lights picking their way through gaping branches had, in times past, seen streams of people filling this same place, with anger and revolution, hope and despair filling their hearts. Those same old emotions now filling my heart and twisting it to breaking point.
I sat waiting in Parque Central, Havana, as it reverberated to its old vibrant self. A place of brooding sensuality, pulsating to the sound of Latin rhythms. Its old worn cream flagstones, shiny from years of furious and hurried footfall of white-suited bronzed-skinned men, dark-haired, blond- haired, and dressed to kill many hearts and men. Slender, curvy women with shiny ink-black hair, glossy like the feathers of a crow, with high Afro-European cheekbones, eyes of liquid darkness, lazily looking around at all who walked through.
My head was abuzz as the sound of traffic whirled around this historic Spanish-style plaza steeped in antiquity, locked in an almost forgotten time. The low growl of brightly coloured long-tailed American Chevrolets and Buicks swam around the plaza or lay like exotic fish on a seabed of tarmac roads. Their leather upholstery, creased, scratched, repaired, with concave indentations of worn seats, held many stories, many memories of romance or escape. Those old cars left over from the 1950s, their bodies still shining, their inner parts a mix of hundreds of different bits and pieces, held together with another kind of hope and wish, much like the people of Cuba. And now, those low- slung sleek cars of Schiaparelli pink, limoncello yellow, acid turquoise blue, and pimento red, those primary colours of vibrancy and childhood drawings were offering tourists insights into the former glory of Havana for a ride around, $50, one hour, one person.
Sitting, crouched over, waiting, I too felt much like those old cars looked, eyes bright, chrome shiny on the outside, my emotions held together with pins of my determined self to never give way to hurt or remorse of any kind.
Throughout the day I had sat, not wanting to move in case I missed his arrival. Legs crossing and uncrossing, as the sun warmed the old stone bench, looking up and around at the ebb and flow of the plaza.
Parque Central, the heart of Old Havana, sparkled in the sunlight, surrounded by heavily overgrown Jacaranda trees, tall and stately. In each corner of the plaza, groves of white scented Mariposa flowers grew, delicate yet bold, and dried- up baptismal-shaped fountains sat idly, no longer playful. Old men sat closely together, waiting, some wearing discoloured ragged khaki jackets and Che Guevara berets, medals pinned to the brim. Their long knobbly fingers dangling across their crossed bony knees. They limply held or read a newspaper, some pulling on a thin papery roll-up, spittle stuck between yellowing teeth. Eyes, now cataractous and watery-blue peering out from beneath wisps of greying hair, bare-footed, grimy, with broken toenails, but still proud. Arturo (I had taken his photo on a previous happier trip), stood apart, leaning with one bare foot against a lamp post, proud and tall. Those old men held memories and postures of former soldiers, still fighting for their thread of life, as if still in that great revolutionary war, alongside the iconic Che Guevara. They sat hoping for a tiny handout given in exchange for a souvenir photo for some tourist to take home and pin up on a wall, somewhere.
My half-closed eyes took in the young men, redolent in different corners of the plaza, one leg propped up on a bench, the latest cotton canvas Converse on their feet, impeccably dressed. Their eyes roving, darting, looking unobtrusively or purposefully over tourists, all possible opportunities. A scene I saw repeated in every city I travelled to throughout Cuba.
I continued to sit, the waiting becoming a purgatory. How much longer would this continue?
My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the tour invite and for providing the extract.
I have always felt a misfit with a burning rebellious soul and a thirst for knowledge of global cultures, especially the cross-cultural peoples of the world.
I was born in India of Anglo Indian/Eurasian parents, residing in old colonial railway colonies. We lived a charmed but borrowed european lifestyle, attending catholic convents, far from home and being taught by narrow-minded nuns. I escaped my early cloistered life through my parents’ immigration to the Uk. Barely here I landed back in the arms of more nuns, until a further escape at sixteen to a teenage life at a college of further education.
I followed in the footsteps of family into careers in nursing, teaching, and then breaking free by setting up my own business in design and textiles, manufacturing out of China and India.
Love, marriage and a child came along to divert the course of my life but I continued studying, particularly anthropology, which further fired my passion for travel and cultures similar to my own. I wrote down the stories I heard, kept copious notes, and gradually melded them with my own heritage. Diary keeping and photography became an obsession and soon, I became a scribbler, until my scribbles became my debut novel – Thank you for the Kiss.
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