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Monalisa Foster didn’t know bananas were supposed to be yellow. The bananas she ate were green.
It wasn’t her fault. She grew up in Nicolae Ceaușescu’s communist Romania, where food was scarce and people waited in line for rations. Now, especially with the presidential election coming up, Monalisa worries that the U.S. could be headed down the same path with socialism.
She writes a story based on her childhood in the short story Pretending to Sleep. She’s seen and heard things in America that remind her of her childhood in a communist country. And she’s terrified.
Everybody Wanted to Go to America
Monalisa found out that bananas should be yellow by a friend who’d made it to America. She came back to Romania and told Monalisa’s family about the magical place where food could be had without standing in line. Where you could travel to another state without papers. Where bananas were yellow. “Everybody wanted to go to America,” she told The Stream.
“Everything in America was better. Everybody knew it deep down because we would get television signals and no matter how much [the government] tried to suppress them, we still got staticky images. The castaways on ‘Gilligan’s Island’ had a better standard of living than we did.” It confirmed everything they’d heard.
Monalisa and her mom escaped Romania in late 1977, when Monalisa was 8 years old. She was one of the lucky ones. “I am so grateful that we were able to get out because things got worse after we left.”
Life was brutal in communist Romania. The state tried to force couples to become pregnant. “They had the gynecology police, which would go into factories and make sure that women were having sex with their husbands and getting pregnant.” The state wanted people to have children, but many people didn’t. “If you can’t feed your kids, you don’t want them to suffer. You don’t have them in the first place.”
Since the law required that couples have children, yet parents could not afford to feed them, Romanian orphanages were bursting at the seams. “That is how intrusive they were in your life. It didn’t matter to them if you could feed those kids, it didn’t matter to them if you were trying to be a responsible person. All they wanted was cannon fodder.”
Monalisa described what healthcare was like in communist Romania. She had her tonsils and adenoids removed when she was in first or second grade. “I was dragged (yes, dragged, because I didn’t want to go because no one told me why I was there) into a room that was filthy even by the standards of a person (me) who lived in a very old house with dirt floors and an outhouse and chickens and rabbits raised for food in the back yard.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Nancy Flory