Amanda: A Fleeting Love in Havana
I had expressed a desire to visit Cuba when I was in the United States. I was told there were no direct flights to Cuba and America still considered Cuba to be a hostile nation. India has always had cordial relations with Cuba and earlier the Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had visited Cuba in 1985. Later Manmohan Singh the Prime Minister was visiting Cuba to pay his respects to Fidel Castro. The Cuban leader visited India during a NAM meeting and there are reports that he tried to kiss the cheek of Indira Gandhi the Indian Prime Minister but she deftly avoided it as it was a public meeting with cameras all around. India has always supported Cuba in the United Nations on any resolution calling for the end of US sanctions. I wanted to go to Cuba because I had heard a lot about Fidel Castro whom I admire a lot. I was also told that Cuba but now in dire straits economically as Russia was also unable to fund anything for them.
Nevertheless, I made it to Cuba and landed at Havana from Mexico. Seeing my Indian passport the approach of the Cubans was pretty friendly. I was planning to spend seven days in Cuba and was hoping I would have a guide to move around.
I met Amanda at the help desk of the tourist bureau. They were not that many tourists at that time as Castro still ruled the country and he did not appreciate too many people coming. But I was an exception and the Cubans knew I was coming and they also had my background as a MiG pilot and my association with the Soviet Union when it was in existence. They knew about the change of policy now of the Indian government towards the United States but at the same time, they were favorably disposed to Indians.
Amanda was to be my guide in Havana. Later on, I came to know she was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party though I didn't think she had much faith in communism. I was given her biodata; age about 22 or 23, studied high school, athletic with a love for basketball, and staying in old Havana. More important I saw that she was slim and I guess she had white blood as she was reasonably fair with nice features. She wore a short skirt that set her legs to tremendous advantage. We shook hands and got to know each other.
She spoke broken English and invariably would break into Spanish. But her English was good enough for us to communicate. We came out of the airport and for the first time I had a bit of a cultural shock when I saw the cars outside. All the cars were vintage models like Ford and other makes, maybe 30-40 years old. Some of them even predated the revolution. I was aware of these old cars and it was a tribute to the Cubans that they had kept them running all these years.
" You take a taxi?" Amanda asked
I looked in the old cars then had a wish to drive them. I am very fond of cars and it was my wish to drive one of these old jalopies wondered how they would handle on the road.
"Amanda," I said," is it not possible that I could hire a car for a week?"
Her eyes brightened and she replied, "yes, yes, it is better to hire a car and come with me. Do you have an international driving license?"
"Yes," I said," I have a driving license"
"Okay," she said," come, but you will have to pay cash no credit card accepted"
I nodded my head, "yes, I said I know." I had already exchange my dollars at the exchange counter because I was aware that dollars were not allowed to be used for any payment in Havana and you have to use only the local currency and Cubans had their exchange rate."
There was a hiring booth just outside the airport and I hired a 1955 model Ford. It was a pretty big car and I sat down in the car and turned the ignition. Amanda sat next to me and as she sat, her short skirt pulled up slightly and I can't help feeling that she had the loveliest legs I ever saw. I was much younger then and my approach to life was also different.
The car was well maintained which was a surprise and I was just wondering where the Cubans got all their parts to run these old jalopies. I had booked at the Gran Hotel Manzana and Amanda directed me towards it.
At the counter I was in for a surprise, I found a major in full military regalia standing at the desk along with the girl on duty. He shook my hand and said," welcome Squadron Leader, I'm so glad you have come from India. I was hoping if you stay on here you could teach us a thing or two on the MIGs that we fly. I've been told you are a QFI also ( QFI stands for Qualified Flying Instructor) and I had done the course at the Flying Instructor School, Tambaram. He told me I could stay in the officer's mess of the military but I thanked him and said I won't mind staying in the hotel for some time. He went away shaking my hands and telling me," I hope Amanda will take good care of you. Have a look around Havana, it's a lovely place and in case you need anything to tell Amanda and she will get in touch with me."
I checked into the hotel and the boy took my bag to my room. Amanda accompanying me to the room. It was a nice room and best of all it was air-conditioned. Cuba is in the tropics and it can get a little sultry
Amanda used the washroom and after that said," let us start with a trip to the beach."
"ok," I said, "make the seven days memorable"
"Yes but take some beachwear with you"
Later we came out to the hotel and the chauffeur brought the car and both of us got to into it and headed for the beach. As we drove we passed through Havana. it was a nice old-fashioned city and had retained much of its old charm. We reached the beach after about half an hour is driving at Playas del Este. It is a 9km strip of stunning coast. It was a bit of a lonely beach in the morning and after parking the car we walked to a large bunch of trees. There was a lot of sand and the sea was breaking against it. It was a beautiful sight and a strong wind blew and that lifted Amanda's skirt. She did not attempt to pull it down conscious of her beauty, maybe she was following some instructions from her boss.
"Let's change," she said "and jump into the sea. But after that, we will have to dry ourselves with a towel as there is no shower here.
"Where do we change?" I asked
"Here only, I will just change behind the tree. I am carrying a small suit in my handbag". It was then that I observed that she had a small bag and it dawned on me that perhaps it was all planned.
Amanda went behind and came out in a swimming costume. It was slightly frayed at the edges and that told me that there was not much of money available in Cuba and if she as a government servant could not get a brand-new swimsuit things are not hunky-dory for the masses.
I had also changed to trunks and she remarked, "you a bodybuilder?"
I laughed," no, I've been training in the Army and the Air Force with a lot of horse riding, running, etc"
" Flex your biceps," she said," I want to see whether the curve of the muscle comes"
I flexed my arm upwards and the muscle showed. Amanda put her hand on it and felt the muscle, " it's very strong," she whispered. I looked at Amanda and realized she was a very desirable girl. She looked nothing short of stunning in the old swimming costume. If I had my way I would have gathered her in my arms straight away but I didn't do anything like that and just caught her hand and together we ran to the edge of the sea.
We swam for quite some time before Amanda mentioned that she was hungry.
"Yes," I said, and holding hands we came back to where we had left her bag.
"Looks like Cuba is a pretty safe place," I said
"Yes, it is safe and that is thanks to our leader Castro there is very little of mugging and crime."
"You are very beautiful," I told my Amanda, this was something involuntary and the words just came out of my mouth.
She smiled, " I am glad you like me, now you take me for lunch and then for dinner."
A week with Amanda and love
She took me to a roadside cafe at Boulevard de San Rafael for an excellent Italian lunch with chicken and fish. After that, both of us sat down in the car and took a siesta. I woke up first and saw Amanda with eyes closed. At that time she looked even more beautiful and her bosom went up and down slowly creating a thrilling picture. I gently caressed her face and then said," Amanda time for a cup of coffee."
We drove for coffee at the Cafe Arcangel at the Concordia and there were so many people there but nobody seems to notice us. After that, we drove around the city and then went back to the hotel where I invited her to the bar for a drink. It was here that we got to know each other much better and she asked me," do you have $10 to spare?"
I thought for a moment and then gave her $10. I had exchanged all my money at the airport but a few dollars were in my purse. We ate snacks at the bar and then Amanda said that she would leave me in my room and go. We went up to the room and Amanda began to look almost like a goddess to me. We were both heavily sozzled and I do not know how I said it but as Oscar Wilde says 'it is always better to give in to temptation'. I told Amanda," can I see you the way God has created you?". Though tipsy with the drink she understood what I said and she nodded her head and said," I have one condition you may see me but not touch me."
"Okay," I said," I agree"
She stripped in 30 seconds and I was witness to her incandescent beauty. I gave her a small push and she fell on the bed and I kissed her feet and put her toes in my mouth. She whispered, "you had promised not to touch me."
"Yes, " I said," but I never said I will not kiss you and I am not touching you."
The night was passed like a hot sophomoric delight. It was a hedonistic time and after that, she slept the night with me.
The next morning we got up and looked at each other and realized what had happened. She kissed me and said," I have to go home and have a change of clothes."
" Fine, I'll come with you after we have breakfast in the dining hall."
We drove over to her house in old Havana and it was a place that definitely needed a lot of money to be spruced up. The Cuban government didn't have any money for this job. She took me to her small apartment and I sat on her small chair.
"I will change now but you look the other way"
"ok," I said
"You can turnaround," she said as I had faithfully not looked at her. She had changed into a pair of shorts and a T-shirt and looked absolutely ravishing. "Let's go now to see the sights of Havana," she said
I was not sure that drink of yesterday night had an effect as I felt a strange power over her and I said," no Amanda yesterday I never got my fill of you but today when I am absolutely sober, I want to see you once again the way you look before God"
It ended the way it had to end. In between kisses, I unbuttoned her shirt. Good! Amanda was so firm and I was frantic. The ensuing romp so excited us that we lost ourselves. Amanda, later, ecstatically cradled me to her breasts. Later she told me that she wondered if she'd dreamt it all as I suckled her body and nipples I seem to have forgotten why I had come to Havana. Maybe Lord Krishna had decided that Amanda had to come into my life for this brief period.
The next five days were spent in absolute bliss and Amanda took me everywhere and I also bought two new dresses for her as well as lingerie. She took me to the El Templete, Castillo devla Real Fuerza, La Catedral dev la Virgen Maria, and many more but that is not the purpose of this tale.
At the end of it all on the sixth day, I met the same officer at the desk. He shook my hand and asked me how was it
"I have liked Cuba," I said." and as you know I am a great admirer of your leader Dr. Fidel Castro."
"Yes I know but I have a proposition for you. Why don't you stay back in Cuba get married to a nice girl and have children."
I was taken aback at the suggestion
"Squadron Leader," he said," we won't keep you here longer than about a year and if after that you want to stay on with your wife and children its OK but we need qualified MIG pilots and you are a Master Green, you could help us quite a bit."
"I can't say back, I will be court-martialed or they will put section 65 of the Air Force act on me."
The major shook my hand and went away, "my offer stands, stay here, get married have children, and help us." He left, and I went to Amanda who was sitting in the chair and kissed her eyelids and told her about the offer of the major.
She was excited," yes, yes did you accept? If you stay here, make me your woman and I will bear your children."
"No, that is not possible because I have a loyalty to my country but I have a counter offer why don't you come with me to India?"
She looked crestfallen," I can't, I have a mother and three younger brothers and sisters to look after." I gathered her in my arms and knew the impossible was not going to happen. Now 15 years of elapsed and I do not know where Amanda is and I have never gone back to Cuba. As Lord Krishna says 'not a leaf moves without my will.'
Time and tide wait for none. I wonder whether I did the right thing in leaving Amanda and coming away. How would life had been if I'd stayed there? That would make a fascinating imaginary tale.