Day 3 of my hunger-strike

My wife received frantic calls in the middle of the night from her family members in India (India is several hours ahead in time) as my story had hit the newspapers there. Since we had not told them in advance of my hunger-strike it was alarming news to them! With Gandhi’s birthday being yesterday, and with the fasting component of my protest, the media in India apparently picked up the story quickly from online sources. I therefore had three correspondents from India come today for interviews, two associated with a TV station and one with an Indian newspaper. A few freelance photographers also took shots of me. The photo below shows me on Day 3.

If I had the foresight and the enthusiasm of 19th century medical scientists I should have been recording some observations of my body’s reaction to the fasting, but alas I did not. So far, no discernible problems, though I do feel the cold a bit more, which apparently can happen, and I realise how pleasantly warm tube stations are. When returning from central London to head home, you instinctively think of and look forward to a cup of tea and food when you get back, so I have to suppress those thoughts!

I was curious as to the effects of prolonged starvation, and looked up the internet to see if any hunger-strikers had kept diaries. I saw one by a Palestinian prisoner, but the one that caught my eye was a diary kept by Bobby Sands, the Irish hunger striker, for the first 17 days of his hunger-strike in 1981. He began to notice some effects by day 5, but surprisingly by day 17 he was still in good spirits. I have the luxury of fasting while spending part of the time at home with some family support. He had to fast while in prison, and with prison officers as company – sadly, he was subject to cynical jokes from one or two of them, such as ‘You should best stick to reading short books, since you may not get to the end of longer ones’. I read Bobby Sand’s diary while returning by tube from a lecture on Gandhi in central London, and I was so absorbed by his diary that I missed my station stop!

As on the previous day, a few people stopped by to express sympathy and support, including a neuropsychologist from St Thomas’ Hospital who kindly paid me a visit. A lady doctor from the Soviet Union, who said she had fasted there, kindly advised me when coming off my fast to stick to vegetables and fluids, and to avoid dairy produce and meat.

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