Emma, the book and the computer

Emma’s full name is Emma de Jesús Sánchez Perdomo and her book is called Fetiches.  From leafing through it and with my very limited knowledge of Spanish, it seems more a collection of short stories than a novel.  Click here for the background post.


Buying Emma the computer wasn’t a difficult choice.  Anyone else would do the same thing.  When she read my email saying that I would get her a laptop sometime in 2013, she wrote back saying that her coworkers ran to her desk because she had jumped out of her seat and screamed.  They must have thought she had received bad news.

On December 26th, 2012 I went to Bureau en Gros (Staples in Québec) and found a HP laptop with Windows 7 which had been used as a demonstrator.  The sales associate was quick to tell me that Windows had been reinstalled with all the current updates… and that the computer was guaranteed for 1 full year.

Me :  Well… that won’t be of much use.  It’s a gift for someone who doesn’t live in Canada.  By the way, I also need a 56K modem… the kind that plugs into a telephone jack.

SA : Are you kidding me?  Where is this computer going?

Me : Havana

SA : Let me check but I doubt it!

He came back 5 minutes later.

SA : It’s the LAST one.  Take it or…


Of course, buying the computer was the easy part.  Getting it to Havana would prove to be more difficult… but a friend came through and Jacques agreed to take it with him on his Christmas trip.

With the deal finalized, I, wickedly, wrote to Emma to tell her that, although I had the laptop, I couldn’t find someone to take it to her on such short notice.

A few days later, Jacques met up with Amado.  On returning home from the New Year’s Eve’s celebrations (just past midnight, in fact), Amado listened in at Emma’s door.  He heard people talking.  He knocked and when Emma opened the door, the laptop was delivered.  I only wish I was there… you see, a computer changes a Cuban family’s life.

And from then on, things just proceeded with emails being sent over an 8-year period.  Now, I don’t want people to think that I sent A LOT of money.  I sent what I could and with the currency exchange, you can actually buy a brand new, automatic washer for less than $120 Cdn.  It certainly beats washing clothes in the bathtub or sink which many Cubans do.

I can’t say I know very much about Emma.  She certainly loved perfume, like all Cubans.  I always sent her and her granddaughter perfumes in beautiful, romantic bottles… Vera Wang’s Princess in the shape of a heart, for instance.  The perfume I brought on this last trip was  Mugler Angel Eau Croisière in the shape of a rose- and amber-hued star.


I think Emma was religious.  She was always telling me that God was with me during the last years with my parents.  On my last trip, I visited the Havana Cathedral although I had seen it before.  No doubt I will visit it again.


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  1. Brigitte

     /  April 27, 2019

    You are an angel.
    And I so do love these stories.

  2. Tara C

     /  April 27, 2019

    What a wonderful story. When you follow your heart good things happen! I am sure she was tremendously appreciative of everything you did for her and her family. You made a difference in her life.

    • I wasn’t very open about my relationship with Emma. When you say that you are sending money to a woman in Cuba, people gleefully come to the wrong conclusion. I think Emma would be happy to know, as well, that I will continue to help her granddaughter and great granddaughter. So little money goes a very long way in Cuba. All this from an unsolicited gift which pleased me greatly.

  3. Mario Fournier

     /  April 28, 2019

    Tu as fait une difference dans sa vie. Elle a également fait une différence dans la tienne. Ce que nous donnons nous est remis!

  4. Andrea

     /  April 29, 2019

    What might be a small thing or amount to us can be an huge treasure to someone else. How great it is so hear how thrilled she was at the news of receiving a laptop! You opened up her world. What an incredibly generous gift!

    • I think anyone who met Emma and realized how much a $300 laptop would change a family’s daily life would have done the same thing. Thanks for the comment Andrea!


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