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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

hunger

There are a couple of stages to hunger, when you don't eat for a while there's first of all this pang, not really hunger but a shadow of it. More of a foreshadow really. Its a warning that you will be hungry in a little, not right now but jut you wait. This is the first stage, denial.

Then it goes away. It just leaves like the shadow that it is. After a while you feel hungry again, a long rumbling hunger in your stomach, now you're really hungry you can eat a horse you think but if you tried you would be stuck with half a horse and a bursting stomach. This is a good point at which to eat. When they said hunger is the best sauce this is the hunger they were talking about. Everything smells better you become a bloodhound for food. Meat can be smelt from a mile away and if you have a friend eating fries you feel like you can't trust yourself to talk around him because saliva is not a thing of courtesy. This is the second stage, depression.

I can't remember if this hunger goes away immediately or just morphs into the pain. If you have ever had to wait a really long time for food and not been so busy that food doesn't cross your mind then you know about the pain. It's a razor in your stomach. You can nearly double over in agony, but this too will pass my child. This is the third stage of hunger this is anger.

Then this passes, the hunger goes away, you no longer think about it, you can go on with your day, you can do it for hours until food is put in front of you. This stage is especially easy to reach if you're busy, busy people have no time for hunger and even less for food. This is the fourth stage of hunger acceptance.

If you don't eat however you feel hungry again in a few hours or the next day. You feel weak at this point. If food is put in front of you you will eat. In a hurry. No problem. But at this point hunger has made you weak. Cooking is hard and you have to motivate yourself to find the kitchen, to find the matchsticks, to find the food, to find the pan, to find the fire, to find yourself eating. You wonder if its worth it or not to cook though you know you'll have to. If there's something on TV to distract you you let yourself be distracted. This is the fifth stage of hunger, bargaining.

Not everyone goes through the above five stages, some people feel like puking when they're hunger which is a twist of irony. Others feel the manifestations in different ways. But the above is my experience. A strange thing about anger is that it gives you ulcers. Well real anger too but I was talking about my niftily named third stage. The pain comes because you think of food and the brain tricks the body into preparing for digestion so Hydrochloric acid is pumped into the stomach. The pain felt is due to the eating away of your stomach lining, let this go on for a long time and the stomach lining is completely eaten away. Leaving ulcers in its place.

In Kenya people are dying.

People are dying everywhere but in Kenya people are dying due to hunger. They are dying of starvation. This is how starvation works. Early symptoms include impulsivity, irritability, hyperactivity and possibly submissiveness. Atrophy (wasting away) of the stomach weakens the perception of hunger, since the perception is controlled by the percentage of the stomach that is empty. Victims of starvation are often too weak to sense thirst, and therefore become dehydrated.All movements become painful due to muscle atrophy and dry, cracked skin that is caused by severe dehydration. With a weakened body, diseases are commonplace. Fungi, for example, often grow under the esophagus, making swallowing unbearably painful. The energy deficiency inherent in starvation causes fatigue and renders the victim more apathetic over time. As the starving person becomes too weak to move or even eat, their interaction with the surrounding world diminishes. There is also an inability to fight diseases, and in females, irregular menstruation can occur.

This is a wikipedia description of how this works. That's not my writing skills peaking at morbid description, its a straightforward clinical description of how starvation works. And this is happening in Kenya. People do not have the option to check out at any of the above stages of hunger, they only check out when they die. This has been on the news for some time and it passes unnoticed. A lot of people just go back to eating or drinking. I have a friend who got so riled up about this, he looked ready to berate everyone who was at fault. The farmers who can't read the seasons any more, the leaders who steal food that's actually there, the people who are complacent in their attitude towards such thing, everyone with food in their stomach. And it awoke something in me. It's wrong, nearly evil that there are people dying of hunger out there.

My aunt told me the other day that the only evil thing in the world is desperation, desperation leads to crime and other such ills. This is what happens when people are hungry. And people are hungry. I have no idea what to do about this problem and with this I risk putting myself in the all too common pile of people who complain and wonder why nothing happens when they are the ones doing nothing. But I think words are important, from words spring action, they wake the part of the brain where ideas can be pruned and grown. So I want to put down some words and hopefully get some people to exchange some words, before anything can be done there has to be a something to be done, so my friend wants to come up with an idea, anything is better than what we have so this is an appeal for thought because that's the proverbial first step in the thousand mile journey to a better place.

I wrote this before I watched the news yesterday and realised that there are people who have been doing something about the hunger, they're trying to mobilise the masses and the corporates to donate money with a goal of half a billion shillings in the next month. If you want to donate the m-pesa number is 111111, there's an account number too but I can't remember it or find it on the internet. So at least there's something you can do, we'll have to teach people how to fish later but noone can sit down for a lesson if the grumbling of their stomach scares away all the fish.