The gentleman of the machete
- Submitted by: admin
- Health and Medicine
- 05 / 25 / 2007
History and philosophy of a 88 year old man , still a cane cutter who emerges from his apparent contradictions.
Esteban Figueroa Peña, of 88 years of age, still goes to cane plantations, as a member of the brigade Antonio Maceo, in La Palma municipality.
Though he didnt ride a horse anymore, he knows when it is going to rain without listening to the weather forecast. But what is even more paradoxic in the life of this peasant is that being a short and apparently not strong person, he cuts sugar cane as if he had two men in his hands.
He is one of the best in the brigade, and smiles when we ask if the bones hurt sometimes, in fact he affirms and adds.... "so many years of work".
Born in Dolores community, he never went to school, besides he didnt like it either, thats why he told his father: "I dont like to study" and the father took him to the sugar cane plantations.
He learned from his father the exact formula to do the cuts, thats why he could multiply himself by two and the other him began to work, today he cannot do that anymore. He just say that if he stays home he would get sick.
His son Juan and grandson Ernesto are members of the brigade too, and they state that cane needs punctuality, and despite they cut it near the sea, not a single thing becomes an obstacle to be the best, not even mosquitoes.
Do they admire and respect you?
Peña family working at the sugar cane plantation"Yes, they do. Though some people say I am an ambicious person because despite I dont have a lot of strength, I always want to cut more and more. My virtue is to have always sugarcane in my mind, the central cannot stop. When Im sleeping I dream about what I have to do next day. My wife Catalina, scolds me as if I were a boy. Yes, I earned a good salary, but the province and the country earn a lot too, we need sugar".
And what the harvest time ends...
"I work in other growings, I have a rice plantation to support my family. The harvest time ends and the soil rests during some months, but I prepare the conditions for the new one".
He likes when his children ask him to stop working and encourage him to watch a good baseball match.
"I know Im a happy man, and I will be happier when I finish to repair my house. I did what I wanted since my youth, and I married a countryside woman, besides my five children have my ideas. Of course I have had problems, but none of them has become a reason to give up on my work, not even the death of my parents".
I look at his face and I see a hardworking black man, his children look after him, they let him take a break sometimes. He is the pet of the brigade, everybody loves him. Esteban does not smoke or drink, his thing is baseball.
I picture him playing, running all the bases in those hard matches, but I dont know, I think he would be always among the best ones, as in the rest of the stuff.