An excerpt from a recently finished upcoming book by Enrique del Risco titled “Our Hunger in Havana.”
The hunger wasn’t like that of Knut Hamsun, the Norwegian who won a Nobel Prize in Literature for telling the story about his experiences with hunger, among other things. Our hunger was not one about roaming the city surrounded by people more or less satisfied, looking at lunch meat behind the glass at butcher shops or cream filled pastries behind the glass at bakeries. It wasn’t a disgusting capitalist hunger. No sir.
It was a tidy, organized, and egalitarian socialist hunger. You were spared the spectacle of lunch meats, of seeing men sitting at a cafe drinking hot chocolate with biscuits while your mouth watered from pure yearning. We all experienced hunger equally.
The only place we would see succulent delights was in the movie theater or on television in some movie they showed out of carelessness or malice. Or at the table of some restaurant for tourists, but in that case we had to understand: tourists come from another world, a world with a much lower capacity for sacrifice and without the principles necessary to defend asceticism to the death. The tourists would come — as our grand leader explained — to give us hard currency, which we would use to buy powdered milk for the children since our cows no longer had socialist feed to eat.
The word “socialist” was everywhere. Like a piece of sheet metal you would use to patch leaks that keep appearing.
They would talk about a socialist democracy, about a socialist economy, about socialist culture, but strangely enough, no leader ever mentioned a thing about socialist hunger, although that is exactly what it was.
Synchronized fasting only to later eat the same shit. Potatoes if potatoes is what you were given. Cabbage if it was cabbage. Turnips. One or two items at a time. To have more than two would be to commit an inadmissible waste.