Philately in Harmony
By Roberto Ornan Roche
My father had a wooden petty box, as a petty coffer. Once or twice, I saw it between his hands; in one of those instances, he also showed me its content. It was his mail-stamp collection. The box was varnished, I believe that it had a sort of dustcloth in its interior that at some time, it served to put optical instruments or lab ones of his work but now it was good to save his collection.
I also remember that some time later, being still a boy, I used to look at the shop window of the stand that formerly sold magazines, newspapers and souvenirs in the bus terminal of my town. I usually saw an album of stamps which is rarely sold nowadays, something that was expensive at that time but that my grandfather Juan finally bought it for me. He was a very indulgent grandfather towards me; he took me to fish or go for a walk, as well as he told me short stories, helping me to forget my orphan condition.
A short time later, I was already at home filling in that great album. The stamps were all drawn in black and white; the purpose was to find the originals corresponding to each place. My mother and other people took me to the post office and to the bookstores to try to find the different stamps, and with their slender economic resources, they bought me some.
I remember a married couple of the neighborhood who already died. The lady was very well known for not to return the balls that fell into her beautiful garden. In one of their trips to Havana City, they visited a privileged place for the philatelists where all the collections were sold. One evening, I was called to their house and they asked me to take the album with me. The lady, whose name was Dulce, was putting the nylon cases that contained the new stamps in each page. My album already began to be my personal pride. I stared at her caring face, full of friendlines so I forgot all the lost balls.
But one day I had the idea of going from door to door, requesting people if they had saved letters and they could give me the stamps. At that time the e-mail didn't exist, not even the telephone calls to talk to people abroad, so people communicated by writing letters. It took a long time, two and up to three months to receive a letter and many times, they were never received at the end. I could even remember when I saw those people snipping the stamps. People were different from what they are nowadays, they had time to chat and to pay attention to the dreams of a boy. Later, I submerged the stamps in water with salt to dislodge them from the piece of paper of the envelope so that no remains of the paste were left. Then, I put them to dry off inside a magazine with some thick books over it. Once, a lady gave me her grown-up son's collection. That was the way by which I could gather so many stamps.
Although I don´t have that vast collection any longer and I lost most of the stamps through time, many others even remain. Recently, when I did not even remember that, my nephew found the album almost deteriorated because of the time and traces. He was taking out the stamps that even served and made his own collection. I felt very happy that something that I saw in my father´s life, my great passion during the childhood, could please the expectations of another boy. The past came to my mind again; that so sad stage and full of homesickness but that definitively, it is 99,99 percent of our own life.
When pasting a stamp into a letter, we hope to make somebody happy that day or to receive the appropriate answer that can supply our necessities. When recovering the same stamp and keeping it, we opt for other reasons, maybe feeling some nostalgia for a beautiful thing that can be held out, even for a longer time; moreover, trying to find out a new way in life, keeping close to the faith that better times will come. It is the same feeling that I had when simple and fond memories made me buy that album of stamps and all people by my side helped me to make my first dream true: my dream as a philatelist.
"Set me as a seal upon your heart " Song of Solomon 8:6