The Farmer who Changed his Birthday
Luis Monteagudo López was born on June 15, 1927; however he always celebrates on August 13
2016-08-11 | 13:08:04 EST
I filled my living room with photos of the Commander in Chief Photo: Yunet LópezZoom
August 11, 2016
MADRUGA, Mayabeque.— The paper was folded looking its place within the envelope. Then Luis Monteagudo López, in the spirit of a man of thirty, though he is nearly the 90 years of age, got on his bike and pedaled. He is now leading the post office, and this time, the mailbox received the letter number 38 for the usual recipient: Fidel.
Luis Monteagudo López, born in this municipality, has celebrated since 1978, the birthday of the Commander in his neighborhood, and he invites the Commander. And the truth is that Fidel comes every year to the blue house near the ceiba in La Sabana, one of the remotest towns in Madruga, because Fidel has always lived in the soul, gestures and the house of Luis.
«The first invitation I send is for him, and I have already received 38 replies. Nearly 500 people come here every year, my house is full. Genaro Hernández, the deceased fighter of the Moncada, used to come almost every year, » he assures.
And looking for other names in his head, he entered the bedroom and then returned with more than 50 memories to the living room where we talked. Some images of Celina González in front of the microphone, in others, the poets Rafael Rubiera and Rigoberto Rizo; all pictures reflect the rejoicing of the people.
«Musicians and troubadours always come here, from Cangre, Güines and other municipalities. This event is to sing to Fidel. Everything is organized months in advance, because nothing can fail. »
The foot of the ceiba is covered by candies at three in the afternoon when the piñata is broken and children fill their pockets, play and take part in sports competitions organized by the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER) and they have fun at the party of the greatest pioneer.
Neighbors peel root vegetables, the young people talk and dance until two in the morning, everyone sings Happy Birthday many times, they have fun and enjoy living in Cuba and celebrate the 90 summers of the leader.
Everybody, including close cooperatives and companies, cooperates in the arrangement of this party.
This is a tradition in Madruga, and in spite of the downpours, sadness or material shortages, the celebration does not stop for anything.
«I´ve never asked a penny to anyone. All they come here, work and enjoy. The joy of living has to overcome obstacles, as well as the joy of having the Commander with us. »
Fidel does not lose the ability to impress this elderly in Madruga, either from the memories or the current images in the press or television. Perhaps that´s one of the reasons why his second son is named after him.
«My Fidelito came with the Revolution. Perhaps he is the first boy named by Commander´s name after the victory, he was born in the early hours on January 1st, 1959 .»
I celebrate together with him
«I filled the living room in my house with pictures of the Commander in Chief. I collected them when he was in many places. And I still missing some. I want to place more than a hundred, because Fidel and I are going to surpass the hundred years. »
He looks again at Fidel in his snapshots. His eyes are not the same as 20 years ago, but he says that, when the sun is strong and letters better illuminated, he reads history books and does not get tired of imagining the Commander.
—Do you celebrate your birthday?
—No. My birthday is on 15 June; but I prefer to celebrate it on August 13. I always say: My birthday is together with Fidel´s.
—Then, you will be 90 soon.
With laughter he takes the joke and answers: «No.. I celebrate together with him, but it´s not my birthday.. Last year I had health problems, and as I felt so bad, I thought: I do not get to 13. But the two of us reached to the date, he says. »
—And now you have to think about the 91.
—Sure. I spend the year planning what I´ll do for the next party. People say to me: Monteagudo, how will be the thing for August? And I always say: Super. »
Thus, Fidel and Luis will be 90 next August 13, in what has become a tradition in Madruga, one of them following the calendar, and the other his heart, because this elderly farmer has been sending letters to the Commander for 38 years, and he celebrates two birthdays in one together with the people.
Translated by ESTI