Unsociable Cat

catOpposite our flat is some sort of park; it is not public, it seems to be open only to certain people, reserved for those of a certain organisation. There are so many organisations in Cuba, at every level; the park could be for members of the revolution or merely some association of gardeners. I did ask Yuri; she sort of knew but is not really interested and my Spanish is not good enough to understand her when it comes to details.

If the park is for former members of the revolution, perhaps its members are dwindling – there can’t be many left. It provides work for at least three people, who tend to it and keep it clean. I don’t know exactly what they do, but it is not very much, and perhaps next to nothing at all. They seem to sit in the shade of the garden most of the day. Good luck to them. Perhaps this type of job is repeated many times, not so much now that there are cuts, but pretty often. The park is pretty big, perhaps fifty yards by one hundred yards, walled with a gate and an office. The office is opened at about six in the morning and stays open all day, perhaps till midnight. In the time I’ve stayed here I haven’t noticed more than a dozen visitors.

It contains mature trees of many varieties, trees that have been there and grown for fifty or more years; as well as younger varieties, palms, smaller trees and plants. Of course, whomever’s job it is to tend to the offices and park will not receive much money, ten to fifteen dollars a month perhaps, which may explain why the workers are slightly apathetic: they do their stuff, go through the motions, but they do seem tired – I’ve only been watching for a few weeks; they are here every day, probably been doing it for years. There is a strange mixture of apathy and energy here, not confined to age groups, but more what people do with their lives. There is more choice now, but prospects are still quite narrow for most people.

Several cats live there, rarely straying outside the park. I can see them by the gate sometimes but mostly they are hidden. I assume they are fed by the keepers of the park and I’ve seen neighbours put scraps through the fence or leave something outside, the only time I see the cats leave the grounds. One cat in particular, a mixture of white, brown and black, stays almost continually on the office roof. Round and about are grey, ginger, black, white and all mixtures in between. The cat on the roof is thoroughly unsociable. At first I thought it was too scared to go down, that it was frightened of the company of the other cats, perhaps not having its own territory and taking refuge on the roof. But it is not scared, it is just unfriendly and aloof.

Sometimes another cat will join it on the roof, sit close to it for a while, stare at it. It does not respond, merely turning its back on the interloper until it goes away. It wants to be on its own, have nothing to do with any cat life or, as far as I can see, any humans either, apart from when it is fed. It is an antisocial cat, taking no part in Cuban comradeship. I don’t think it is old, not particularly, it moves well enough. It is an individual cat, perhaps a result of the new entrepreneurial spirit of the city and country.

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