I promised myself I wouldn’t be bothered by the results of a study by U.S. scientists and others at the University of Cienfuegos, on the positive effects on our physical health generated by the Special Period.* As statistics can prove almost anything, it is not worth the pain to attack the falsification of the low levels of cholesterol found in our arteries. But to look in the mirror and see myself, from a bird’s eye view, with the obvious results in height and weight from those “tough years,” I can’t contain myself.
My generation lived through puberty marked by “there isn’t any,” dreaming of cans of condensed milk and Bulgarian canned food from the idealized ’80s. We met to talk about food, while devouring tablespoons of sugar and other ugly things — of dubious origin — that our parents prepared through a mountain of sacrifices. Food was turned into an obsession that still marks us.
A study whose results measure only the low levels of fat in our bodies is too superficial. Who will account for the mental imbalances caused by those deprivations, the suicides, the escapes in improvised rafts to flee the nearly empty plates, the personal and professional projects that remained unfinished, the children who were not born, the frustration and compulsion to put anything we can into our mouths, that we still have.
Even so, I would like to read for myself the whole study undertaken by these scientists and look for any place where, along with terms like “blood pressure,” “sedentary lifestyle,” “cholesterol,” and “health,” there appear others such as “happiness,” tranquility,” and “dreams.”
*Translator’s note: A very difficult time in Cuba after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the loss of its financial support.