The Horror Of Starvation

A family meal in Afghanistan, from 2012. I won’t show them starving

Paati’s love language is food, and low-key surveillance. She always wants to know where everyone is, and she always wants to feed them. Achchi is pushing 100 now and nearly deaf, so she just forces food on people. She doesn’t listen to anybody.

She’ll dig up old biscuits and pluck dusty, derelict ambarella and just shove them into your hands, both unable and unwilling to hear anyone say No, thank you. Please! No thank you! Achchi! Please. No more biscuits! Achchi!

Love down here is expressed through feeding.

Children are fed by hand here well into their twenties. Not all the time of course, but food somehow tastes better when Amma mixes it. My mother would occasionally feed me until I was a teenager, until she said my mouth just got too scary.

For birthday, pre-COVID at least, we ceremonially hand feed each other cake. You take the first slice and then shove it in your loved one’s face, again often non-consensually. We even do this in office. It’s a kinda gross custom, but kinda lovely. It’s how we showed that we cared for each other. By literally making other people eat.

Today I watch my children eating, constantly, and I feel a deep pang of horror, and empathy. Because I think what if I wasn’t able to feed them, what if their grandparents and great-grandparents had nothing to give? Besides the body horror, there’s the cultural horror, the horror of the soul. How would we feel?

Today I know, I know, that millions of people live like this. Millions of parents cannot feed their children. The starvation sanctions that White Empire has spread across the world, they are killing millions in Yemen and Afghanistan alone, a great many of them children.

To me this is not just the horror of starvation, emaciation, of your energy, your body and organs shutting down. It is the death of culture, or care, of community.

It’s not that people cannot eat in the ordinary, distant, callous starvation of poverty. No, today people live under most brutal siege, and they are besieged for generations. All sieges are fundamentally the same, the goal is to starve and sicken a population until they give up and throw their own leaders’ heads over the wall. White people just have a new word for it, which is ‘sanctions’. But it’s the same fucking thing.

White Empire’s sieges would make a Khan blush at their length and wanton cruelty.

Today millions of people are being starved to death before our eyes, sentenced to suffer and die under White Empire’s most thorough and unforgiving sieges. They think they do it so cunningly, so bloodlessly, like absolute ghouls they even talk about human rights and humanity. They say they’re defending women’s rights or whatever, by starving their children. And honestly they get away with it, because their own people don’t give a fuck, at these horrors that happen with their money, in their name.

But Genghis knows and I know, these are just sieges. Hapless people defied the empire, and so down to the newborn child, down to the child in the womb, they must suffer and die terribly. The message White Empire sculpts into the rubble is the same everywhere, in its pattern of torn concrete and steel. To modify Shelly,

Look on my Destruction, ye in Poverty, and despair!

To me this distant reality is a constant presence on the periphery, which I mostly don’t think about until I feed my children. And then I see it reflected in terrible immediacy, in the upside-down of their eyes. What if I could not feed them? Forget the bodies, how would our souls survive?

For every parent like me feeding their child, there is a parent who cannot. And that feeling, that feeling opens a gnawing and a terrible emptiness inside of me. Feeding yourself is one thing, but feeding a child? That’s everything.

What would I do to feed my children? How terrible to be pushed, by the richest people in the world, to the point where I could not? How could I come home every day empty-handed? Because there’s no money in the banks? Because there’s no food to be got? Forget my pockets and stomach. How empty-heartedwould I be?

Then I think of all the grandparents with nothing to give, only hungry mouths of their own. Culturally this is a fate worse than death for us, it would be for anybody. These are not just people unable to live, these are people unable to love. These sieges are taking far more than life. Their bloody claws reach through the generations, into eternity. God knows, during a famine, even the ancestors weep.

We are talking about an amputation of the soul here, and we discuss it as statistics. So many millions, happening so soon, whatever will we do? That’s the news but look into your own children’s eyes. It’s all just wanton abuse. Even calling these crimes against humanity, it misses their complete obliteration of what it means to be a human being. To be in a family. To eat.

This is the horror of starvation, to me. I see it every day in the reflection of my childrens’ eyes, as they eat. I see it in their grandparents smiles, as they potter around the kitchen, while the little tyrants order them around. I see it in their great-grandparents lives, as they carry on customs that seem to us excessive and extreme. This is our life. This is our love. This is our humanity.

And some bureaucrats a thousand miles away, some cowardly bombers behind a computer screen, they say no. Not for you. Not forever. Die for human rights. Die for democracy. Die for every abstract, bullshit value, while they can’t understand the simple fact that every animal needs to eat.

So these arms dealers buy second yachts and throw plates of shrimp cocktail over the side, offerings of waste to whatever death god they worship. These corrupt politicians mouth platitudes about helping, burning bullshit at the altar of hypocrisy. These inept journalists make cocktail conversation of starvation, like it’s all just a ‘take’. Meanwhile they’re taking food out of children’s mouths right now, for real, for ever, for eternity.

This is White Empire, in its death spasms, killing people at the frontiers just to loot more money from its own citizens. Dropping expensive bombs on the poorest people. If you defy Empire, they’ll make sure that your great-grandchildren don’t get food or medicine. That how deep goes their enmity.

And even their citizens will want to debate these sieges, as if it’s not just absolute monstrosity, horrors an animal in a cage would understand. These are truly people without honor or humanity. The ongoing starvation of millions, this is their most unforgivable cruelty.