Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. - http://www.cubafreepress.org

Abril 26, 1999

'REWRITING' SOME CUBAN - AND UNIVERSAL - PROVERBS By Graciela Alfonso, Cuba Free Press.

HAVANA - The use of proverbs is part of the Cuban nationality. It is part of the rich legacy we inherited from our Spanish and African grand-parents. But the legacy is fading and that hurts. Many young people seem unaware of the thousands of teachings in that collection of proverbs as well as those in the Bible's Proverbs.

There is in those forests of sayings something for everybody, from the ingenuous to the brazen, from the optimist or the pessimist. They do not seem to grow old.

Maria de la Paz, 86, knows a great deal about proverbs. Looking at the world through her view of them is a captivating experience. She believes there are sayings for every occasion. Where an optimist may say, "Whatever happens...is probably for the best" or "Always put on a good face...when facing a bad time", a pessimst may in their own right say, "Happiness has a very skinny body" or "Happiness stays but a while...in the home of the poor."

For those who may complain about something, she might say: "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth."

She disagreed with some of the changes I proposed to 'modernize' some of the more dated proverbs. Some we discussed: "After the laughter, come the tears" became "After the laughter...comes more laughter." "The shrimp that slumbers...is carried off by the stream" was changed to "The shrimp that gets caught...is eaten by the tourists"

There were some we disagreed on, such as "He who does not listen to advice...does not get to grow old." Even her loquacity failed her when we discussed "God gives a beard...to the man without a jaw."

We spoke some about the current situation in Cuba and we agreed to meet again to continue our discussion on the proverbs. When I thought all had been said, she surprised me with a final barrage of linked sayings: "My daughter...when the night looks the darkest...that's when the dawn begins...There is no illness which can last 100 years or a body to withstand it...so don't lose hope since every time it rains...a clear day is sure to follow."

Graciela Alfonso, Cuba Free Press.


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