Dulce de Frutabomba

I scurry across with a bottle of homemade dulce de frutabomba in my hands because if I hurry in, I can hurry out. It does not taste the same with block-American yellow cheese as with cream cheese. Only the old lady and I know this about the traditional Cuban syrupy dessert.

One humid morning the past summer over café con leche y tostadas, she confessed how tired she was even though her body was still jaunty. The great-grandmother raised four children, then helped with seventeen grandchildren, now the twins, whose mother has no idea how to make dulce de frutabomba or pure for her babies, who does not go to school though she’s only seventeen, plays some maquinita on the TV all day.

“If she was born in La Habana, she’d be a better woman.”

“Maybe she would be a jinetera now,” I said.

“Not all the young girls in my country are prostitutes, but all the young girls in this country act like boys. They talk like boys. They play with boy toys,” she said. I laughed at her determination to classify gender biased play-things. Now, conscience-smitten that I do not bring the accompany- ing queso crema, an incomplete offering, I think of what it does for papaya in ways American does not.

Yousi Mazpule is a professor of business communication skills at FIU in Miami, Florida. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from FIU. Her work has appeared in several magazines including Generation ñ, Prick of the Spindle, and Coral Gables Living.