Hunger and My Father
By Laila Elbaghazaoui
Starvation is considered to be a disaster that many countries suffered from and are still suffering from. As a result, many people die because of a chronic hunger. In fact, nowadays, it is not easy to accept that a person would die due to hunger, that’s why we can’t imagine how people went through it in the past.
Therefore, we rely on the stories of our ancestors to get closer to their experience and to feel their suffering.
There are lots of people who are still alive and they have different stories to tell about that period. In this regard, I have chosen my father as an example who had experienced hunger during his childhood. My father is an example of strength, power and carriage. I am pretty sure that there is a story etched in each wrinkle on his forehead.
He abhors the habit of throwing unwanted bread in the garbage, and each time he finds bread in the garbage, he starts shouting. At first, I didn’t accept his huge anger just because of a loaf of bread, but later I have discovered that he is right to be angry. As a matter of fact, I have discovered that he suffered from hunger which spread in Morocco at the end of the 2nd world war and exactly in 1945. He was 7 years old at the time. He has witnessed this difficult experience that was the cause behind his strong personality, and contentment. He is satisfied with a little and never asks for more. He can eat just bread, drink tea and never mind if there is a special meal.
My father now is 75 years old, but his memory carries lots of emotions and lots of events. He still remembers how they shared a loaf of bread that had been made of brown flour mixed with different plants like the root of palms to increase the quantity and feed everybody. He has got 2 sisters and 3 brothers, so it was hard to feed them all. He still remembers how he and other children used to suck what remained in the tea pot, since tea was something precious to them. He told me about the miserable food they used to eat. And as a poor family, the plant of arugula was part of their meals, and for others roasted grasshoppers were their main food. Because of bad nutrition, people looked always exhausted and tired, to the extent that some of them couldn’t bury their dead relatives or even stop dogs from tearing the bodies. It is really a very dramatic image to see poor human beings suffer from hunger, lack of food, and diseases. It is true that draught and lack of rain was the cause behind that natural disaster, but also the exploitation of French authority and the rich people were among the causes, since they misused the natural wealth of the country. In other words, during the French protection, Morocco was obliged to send supplies to the French soldiers to help them in the 2nd world war.
Therefore, Moroccans suffered from the lack of flour and other products. Besides, rich people gave poor people food in exchange for their lands.
It is very hard to live in a place where there is nothing to eat and nothing to share. I am really blessed that I have a father like him; he struggled to educate me and to live a better life.
Laila Elbaghazaoui is a English High School teacher in Morocco. She currently involved in the KIDS/iEARN Finding Solutions to Hunger, poverty & inequality project.