TDR Photography: Of men and mice (and banks)

Photography by Matthias Krug

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The little street dog

By Jorge Cuevas Ariza

One summer evening the lady Martha went out to walk her little dog Trill in the park of the city. The little dog Trill was very elegant and good. His (her, your) owner always had it clean and perfumed.

When they were in the park the lady Martha removed the leash of her dear little dog in order for it to walk with all freedom. Then when she saw that her little dog was sat in the grass resting from his small walk, she approached and threw a fillet to him. In this moment a little street dog came with a lot of hunger and smelling the fillet he said:

´Can you share your fillet with me? The truth is that I am hungry.´

The little dog Trill looked into his eyes and underestimating him he said:

´I do not share my food with stray dogs like you.´

Then the little clean and perfumed dog Trill began to bark at the other dog.

The street, dirty, crest-fallen little dog, with hunger in his eyes and with the tail between the legs, separated from that little clean and perfumed dog sadly.

Some hours later it began to rain strongly with thunder. The little street dog began to run looking for a place to be protected from the water, and on having seen a garage, immediately entered to take shelter. But suddenly behind him he heard a few barks.

When the little street dog looked back, it saw by chance that the one who was beginning to bark in the garage was the same clean and perfumed little dog that did not want to share his fillet with him, so it left the garage crest-fallen and with the tail between the legs trying to look for another refuge.

Two days later the lady Martha went out to walk again with her little dog Trill in the park and took the leash from him in order that he was walking freely.

The little dog Trill was walking and running very happily moving away increasingly from the park. It doubled corners, crossed streets, it was jumping over the grasses until in a moment it stopped very scared wondering:

´Where am I? I believe that I have moved away too much from the park and now I am lost … I do not know how to get home.´

The little dog Trill with the tail between the legs began to walk very worried and howling.

Minutes later the street dog was walking along another sidewalk of the street, and managing to see Trill it stopped. He felt instinctively that the little dog Trill was in trouble, so it crossed the street running and asked him:

´What is wrong with you? Why these worried eyes and with the tail between the legs?´

The little dog Trill looked at him and said:

´My name is A Trill, I am worried because I went out to walk, got confused, and went too far from the park. Now I am lost and without orientation. I have never walked along these streets. I am very worried and do not know how to come home.´

The street dog put a leg on his shoulder and consoling him he said:

´Calm down dog! I know the name of all these streets, I am in the habit of walking along all these places. I will help you to go home! Trust me!´

´But I neither have been nice to you, I have not even helped you when you have needed me. I do not believe that you could be good to me, when I have not been good to you.´

´Do you know? In life you must learn that helping makes us better citizens and helps to make us happier,´ the street dog said nicely.

´Thank you! I am grateful for this nice gesture on your part!´ the little dog Trill said worriedly.

Both little dogs crossed and crossed streets, doubled corners until finally they came to the house of the clean and perfumed little dog.

´Finally you have come back home my pretty little dog!´ said his owner Martha happily while she was embracing and kissing it.

The street dog raised a leg saying goodbye to the little dog Trill and it began to walk away to live in the street again.

The little dog Trill began to howl very sadly because his (her, your) friend was leaving.

The lady Martha looked at the street dog and then at the little dog Trill and said to him:

´Now I will act … Do you want us to adopt this pretty little dog in order that it (he,she) lives here with us?´

The lady Martha adopted the little street dog and both were very happy. The little dog Trill learned to share, to be nice with others and to value friendship.

A letter to our unborn baby

By Matthias Krug

As you remain floating peacefully inside your mother’s soft sea of gentleness, caressed by her caring voice and my writer’s hand, we sit here in the red sofa and think of you.

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On the television screen in front of us the country where you will be born shortly, the place where your parents met, is constantly on the news for the wrong reasons:

Economic and banking crisis!

Spiraling unemployment and unsustainable debt!

Danger of foreign intervention!

Bleak outlook for the future generations!

But all that fear-mongering means nothing to you.

At a time like this, there can be nothing more beautiful than simply expecting you. Everywhere on the streets of Madrid, we see babies. Is it because we are awaiting your arrival that we notice them, or is this a veritable baby-boom generation? Against existential woes, are these embattled people placing their hopes on natural continuity? Against economic disaster, the miracle of humanity?

It seems like no time ago that you surprised us with your little wondrous presence, and now you’re almost here. Every day you grow, stretching your mother’s tummy a little more. The miracle of human life, the parental exercise in patience of giving your time to raise another human being, puts a fine perspective on the inherent greed at the heart of super-capitalism’s latest extended crisis.

But what are economic systems to you? Maybe by the time you are our age, humanity will have proceeded to create a fairer, more progressive and environmentally friendly system of living.

Each day you give us more little and big kicks to show you’re there and almost ready to emerge into the world. When you kick, your mother’s beautiful face lights up with sudden delight.

You give us the kicks.

What will you be?

‘Boy or girl? Boy or girl?’

That was what one of my students always asked me those days when we still didn’t know. In a country where English speakers were once a rarity, a surge in bilingual learning is now taking place. Parents place their hopes on English as a vehicle towards a better future. Many students tell me that they will look for jobs outside of Spain, for a lack of perspectives at home.

‘Boy or girl? Boy or girl?’

I said ‘we don’t yet know’.

She said: ‘you must have a bad doctor if it takes that long to find out’. At the time of your birth, massive cuts of up to 10 billion Euros are being implemented by the conservative government in public health and education.

An estimated 500,000 immigrants without their paperwork in order are being turned away from hospitals altogether. Who knows how they will survive without at times life-saving treatment. Or how those mothers will give to birth. Their very existence is threatened.

Our happiness is caused by your existence. By your little heartbeat. By your movements on a monitor. By thinking of names for you. By stroking your mother’s stomach. When you are born it will be a wonder to hold you and welcome you into the world.

For us you will be a new world.

It’s a girl!

The world into which you are born will give you equal opportunities. At least in theory. Girl or boy, you will have the chance to be anything you want. You can be the Prime Minister of Spain – as another student told me the other day she wanted to become because there has never been a woman in that position – or a football player.

A few years ago I interviewed the players of a pioneering football team in Qatar, the first ever women’s team from their country. They were very much aware of the difference they were making for their countrywomen by the simple motion of playing a pass towards humanity, scoring a goal for gender equality.

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Although I write that as a girl you will have equal opportunities, that is unfortunately not the case everywhere in the world. A young journalist from Afghanistan whom I talked to some years ago while she sought refuge in another country was the epitome of bravery. Niloufer Habibi smiled despite being threatened and stabbed down in her country for the mere fact of going to work as a woman.

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Another unique and inspirational and wonderful woman is your mother, who will temporarily interrupt her studies to have you. When she returns to university, fees will have risen by up to 50 % in Spain.

Over in England, where your father went to university, the fees have just been tripled. Universal education is fast becoming a utopia in our hyper-paced, profit-based societies.

We will talk to you in three languages; Spanish, German and English. An ode to a multi-cultural identity and mentality which we want you to embrace. This world into which you will enter is a wondrous place.

As Shakespeare said, all the world is a stage. We are merely the briefest of players, have our wondrous entrance, as you shortly will, and eventually our exits. Humanity has always progressed admirably, and so you too will laugh happily at times or sadly smile at others when you read this letter, many years later, about our current human follies, to which you contributed nothing but happiness.

Matthias Krug, Ph.D, is a Madrid-based writer, journalist and educator. His novel ‘Selfishness’ is available on Amazon.com.