Adelaida: A Cuban Cinderella - Poem by Ana Monnar
Adelaida: A Cuban Cinderella
Written by Ana Monnar
Once upon a time, on the island of Cuba lived two sisters named Adelaida and Marisol. Although identical twins in appearance, their personalities were as different as night and day. Adelaida was noble and loved to help others. She understood that the situation at home was not easy. Their father worked 14 hours a day and their mother was frail and very ill. So Adelaida would wake up very early every morning to cook breakfast and have it ready for her father before he’d go to work. They would eat together while they talked about many different matters.
Adelaida would then prepare a tray for her mother; with love and tenderness she fed her each meal of the day. She also insisted on helping the nurse care for her much-loved mother. She spent time brushing her mami’s hair and would take pleasure in it.
On the other hand, Marisol believed that the world revolved around her. After sleeping until noon, she expected a breakfast menu. From the moment that she stepped out of her bed, she would holler, “Adelaida, bring me my breakfast! ”
Adelaida would serve her sister bacon, eggs, toast, juice, and milk. She would hurry to take the plate to the table and cater to her sister. But Marisol always complained that the food was not hot enough, or the drinks not cold enough. No matter how much Adelaida would try to please her, it never seemed to be enough. Marisol often wanted favors during the very moment that her sister was caring for their mother, and so Adelaida would ignore her sister’s whining and tend to her mother first.
During the long hours of each day Adelaida would sweep the floor, wash, iron, and do the dishes. In between chores, she would hurry each time Marisol rang a bell demanding her services. Marisol would command, “Curl my hair! ” “Wash and iron my clothes! ” “Make my bed! ” “I’m hungry! ” “I want chicken and yellow rice, salad, and custard for dinner! ”
Adelaida would just give in to her sister’s demands to avoid confrontations that would disturb their mother’s peace. Luckily Adelaida had dogs, cats, and birds that adored her and followed her around. Even the mice would come to keep her company and help out. Little Maria the mouse carried the napkin on top of her head to set the table. Sometimes Adelaida and her critters would have fun together carving a giant pumpkin to make pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin custard.
One evening when their father came home from work he called both of his daughters. Adelaida and Marisol both kissed him and listened to what he had to say. With a frown, he mumbled, “My boss is having a dinner at his mansion and he wants our family to attend. Mr. Perez wishes to reward me for being the employee of the year. He also is very proud of his son who just finished his internship and graduated as a doctor. He is coming home just in time for the Christmas holidays and he would like for us to meet him.' In his mind he was thinking, ‘How am I going to get my wife to go? She is so weak and frail.’
Adelaida, who felt and shared her father’s concern and sorrow, read his mind and replied, “Papi, you go ahead and enjoy the party and take Marisol with you. I will stay home with Mami and I promise to call the nurse if I need the extra help.”
Marisol leaped and yelped, “It sounds like a great plan to me! Take me shopping for a new dress, shoes, purse, and jewelry.” Deep in her mind she was scheming to snatch the young doctor. If she married rich she could have servants, a chef, and a chauffeur.
Their father tried to coax Adelaida into going with them. He said, “Adelaida, please come along with us and I will call the nurse to care for your mother during the few hours that we will be gone.” Adelaida gently but firmly begged her dad to let her stay. He finally agreed.
The dinner was only two weeks away and Marisol continued nagging about a dress, pair of shoes, purse, jewelry, and now even added perfume to her inventory. Finally, even after working 14-hour shifts, Papi took Marisol out on several occasions to buy her luxuries. If Adelaida, their mother, or the nurse tried to reason with her insistent demands, Marisol would weep and whine until she got her way. Their father looked fatigued and could barely keep his feet firmly on the ground. Adelaida hugged her father and whispered, “Papi, I love you.” He cracked a slight grin and kissed her on the top of her head.
Adelaida felt sorry for her father and hoped her sister would grow up and mature someday. They were both 23 years old and even though they were twins, their actions and values were poles apart. Adelaida often proved to be as wise as an owl perched up high in a tree as the moon glistened and sparkled above.
Finally the day of the invitation arrived and Marisol was ecstatic. This would be her big break for securing her future husband! She just wanted to get away from their home, which reeked of medicines, antiseptic, and illness. Adelaida helped Marisol into her gown, but instead of showing gratitude, Marisol's whimpering continued. Marisol applied globs of make-up. If someone were to wet a couple of fingers and roll them against her foundation, rouge, and eye shadow, they would have enough watercolors to cover a canvas with frolicking ocean waves. When she put on her big gold hoop earrings and dabbed on cologne, Marisol was thrilled by the look and smell created by these finishing touches.
Marisol scurried to her mother’s room and waved good-bye from the door. The nurse could have been knocked over by a feather after observing such selfishness from Marisol. She pondered how one sister could be so kind, loving, and gentle, while the other was egotistical and self-centered. The nurse had been coming to the house for weeks, having been hired when the mother began to feel weaker and was confined to bed. She was a dutiful and observant nurse who continuously nourished those who needed her help. When the nurse went home for the evening, Adelaida would sit by her mother and hold her hand as she sang to her. Her soothing voice would help her mother fall asleep.
Adelaida’s father kissed his wife’s forehead and then thanked Adelaida for being so caring and devoted. Marisol yelled from across the corridor, “Papi, hurry up or we’ll be late! ” Although he loved both his daughters equally and played no favorites, he could clearly see the difference in their behaviors.
Marisol and her father arrived at the mansion. The butler greeted them and announced their appearance. Mr. Garcia’s gentle boss, wife, and son welcomed them. Mr. and Mrs. Perez inquired about the whereabouts of his wife and his other twin daughter. The humble Mr. Garcia replied softly with sad and shameful eyes, “My wife is ill, weak, frail, and bedridden so my other daughter Adelaida stayed home caring for her. She insisted that we come and have an evening out.” Young Dr. Perez did not even glance at Marisol. He just thought it odd that one sister was out partying, while the other was looking after her mother. Mr. and Mrs. Perez felt sorry for the family’s suffering and offered to take the meal to the Garcias’ home and eat there instead. Marisol was flabbergasted! ‘This can’t be happening! I must be having a nightmare! ’ she thought.
Both families drove to the Garcia residence. The servants and chauffeur carried the meal inside. The Perez family members were guided to the master bedroom where Adelaida was brushing her mother’s hair as she sang so sweetly. Although Adelaida had no make-up and was wearing simple clothes, she looked cool, calm, collected, and as faithful as a saint. Young Dr. Perez looked at Adelaida’s emerald-green eyes and realized that this was one young lady that he would love to befriend. At the end of the corridor Marisol’s green eyes displayed her jealousy and envy.
They sat down around the ill Mrs. Garcia, spoke softly, and ate holding their plates with one hand and their forks with the other. They ate black beans, rice, pork, and fried plantains. Adelaida did not begin eating until she slowly and gently fed her mother first. By this point Marisol was starving, so she devoured her food.
After this very enlightening visit, the young doctor asked Mr. Garcia if he could come regularly to check up on Mrs. Garcia and visit Adelaida. Mr. Garcia was very grateful for his interest and agreed.
The next day the young doctor appeared at the Garcias’ home. He read the chart with the diagnosis of the illness and then examined Mrs. Garcia. Dr. Perez wrote a prescription for a medication that had been tested and approved in the United States, but was not yet that well known in Cuba. He asked the twin young ladies to go to the pharmacy. Adelaida without hesitation obeyed and was ready to walk a mile and a half to buy the medication. Marisol, however, refused to go with the excuse that she was too tired. She thought that if she stayed while Adelaida was absent, perhaps the doctor would notice her instead.
As Adelaida walked the distance, she took joy in observing the squirrels climb the trees. In the meantime, Marisol, without any concern for her mother, just batted her eyes at the doctor and continued her selfish ways.
Each day Dr. Perez would come to check on their mother. It was very clear that he had compassion for the poor suffering woman. He also fell in love with Adelaida and her good deeds.
Marisol tried every trick in the book to split them up. But the more she tried, the more love bonded her twin sister with her new-found love.
The nurse, an observant witness to Marisol’s selfish actions, was astounded. She waited until the doctor left one day and led the twins to the garden. She did not wish to upset the lady of the house.
As all three stood outside, the nurse said in a very sweet voice, “You, Adelaida, are sincere, kind, loyal, and nurturing, and for that I will grant that every time you speak, good things will come out of your mouth! ”
Then the nurse turned to Marisol and with a harsh tone of voice said, 'You, Marisol, are so selfish, self-centered, mean, and manipulating that each time you open your mouth to speak, only bad things will come out! ”
Adelaida quietly pleaded, “Please don’t hurt my sister, she is just immature and will one day change.” When pearls, rubies, and diamonds suddenly came out of Adelaida's mouth, Marisol was amazed and looked frightened but thought, ‘I wonder, what if I speak and get riches also.’ So she dared say, “Now what sort of bad things could really happen? ”
A snake slithered out of her mouth and she looked petrified. Marisol, without thinking, squealed, “Stop it! ” Before she even finished speaking, a crocodile dashed out of her mouth. Adelaida, being a kind soul, begged the magical nurse to forgive her sister. She cried, “Please take my riches away each time I speak, and remove the curse from my sister’s tongue, ” while more jewels spilled from her mouth and onto the floor.
For the first time, Marisol was enlightened by her sister’s love for her. Deeply touched, Marisol felt sincere remorse. The nurse could sense both sisters’ love for each other, and love conquered evil. The spell was broken, ending after 23 minutes had elapsed. One minute for each year of their lives,23 minutes that seemed like an eternity.
When their father returned that evening, he saw that both sisters were waiting hand and foot on their mother.
The young doctor returned each day and their mother grew stronger and healthier. Once her health improved miraculously, he continued visiting Adelaida every single day. He asked her parents for her hand in marriage and they were pleased. His parents were very happy for their son and blessed him for choosing such a nice and noble girl.
The next day he surprised Adelaida by knocking at her door. On her front lawn was the most elegant elephant. The circus was in town and young Dr. Perez hired the ringmaster to assist with the elephant as a unique surprise.Riding it was the cutest mouse holding a sparkling diamond ring. Adelaida was in awe as she accepted his proposal. This time around both sisters’ emerald-green eyes shimmered. Marisol was very happy for her sister and gave her a big hug full of love.
The wedding took place in Varadero Beach under the sunset. Only the immediate family attended. But off in the distance the magical nurse observed the scene and smiled. She knew that the Garcia family would not need her services anymore and it was time to move on to help another family.
The seagulls glided and flew in sweet harmony as the breeze broke the waves along the shoreline. The young doctor and Adelaida decided to make their home in Havana, Cuba, near their parents, where they lived happily ever after.
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