Meeresbande Zine #2, S. 20 Paper Soup
Our “mother“ gave us nothing to eat but paper soup. She took great care to cook fine newspapers and presented us the soup as if it were a very good meal. We ate and we wondered why we were still hungry. Our “mother“ said that we have eaten enough, surely one plate of soup is enough for a child? Yes, of course, mommy. We must be wrong, we can’t still be hungry. Best to ignore the empty and painful feeling in the stomach.
Next day we got more paper soup. We told our “mother“ how good her cooking was and how much we liked it. We ignored our hunger, because since we have eaten, we have no reason to be hungry anymore. We did not notice how weak we got – we didn’t know anything else.
We were truly grateful for this soup. Our “mother“ told us how lucky we were: We have everything we can wish for while other children don’t even have mothers to cook soup for them.
We didn’t know that this soup we ate daily had no nutrients at all – we never had anything else. We didn’t know how nutritious food tasted. It was never served at our house.
Later, we went away to see the world and we found that there were other kinds of soup and other food. We were suspicious. We got sick. We tried again. It was exciting and new to us and we felt that it must be better than what we knew. If there was paper soup on the table along with other food, real food, we would often take only a bit of paper soup, thank you. We’re fine, we don’t need much.
It took such a long time to see this. It took such a long time to realize that what our „mother“ gave us never had any nutrients in it at all and it took even more time to realize what that really meant. How it weakened us. How it made us become used to it so much that we couldn’t digest real food even if we got it. Our taste buds were so used to paper soup that we didn’t know what to make of other things. Can it be trusted?
But now we see: It was a crime! It was, in a way, even worse than just plain starving us. At least that way we would have had a chance to recognize what was happening! At least that way other people might have seen that there was something wrong and helped. Maybe we would have had an easier time adjusting to real food? Or maybe this way is easier? I don’t know. But I do know that I have to learn to reach out for and accept real food when it is offered. I can’t afford to turn it down and content myself with a bit of paper soup. But I feel so greedy every time I accept an offer of real food! I very rarely dare ask for it. I don’t want to be greedy and I fear rejection. I always think people will tell me that I don’t deserve even paper soup if I am so greedy as to ask for a slice of dry bread. How dare I? I have lived off paper soup for so long, it proves I can do without proper food. So I should not ask for anything else and I should not take it if offered. It is polite to say „No, thanks, I’m fine!“
Today was the first time I remember ever being angry at my „mother“ for serving paper soup and calling it sufficient food for a child. It hurt and confused me. I didn’t understand! When I was very young I still knew what real food was supposed to be like! I knew that I was not supposed to be constantly hungry and weak from lack of food! I knew that my mother should give me proper food. But she didn’t! And every time I asked for it or complained about hunger or even dared to let her see my anger and frustration, she would silence me. She would get angry and irritated and point out that she was preparing the best soup I could reasonably expect of her, explaining that paper was all a child needed and that other children didn’t even have that much! She would complain that I was ungrateful and unjust. She would put on a show of self-pity. She would look at me and say, but paper soup is all I have to offer! Why isn’t that enough for you? She would act wounded and lost. She would ask me to provide her with the necessary ingredients to prepare good food, then explain to her how it is made. If I did that, she ruined the ingredients I brought her (how I even got them I don’t know!) and told me she didn’t understand my instructions and offered me some more paper soup.