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.
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.
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.
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.