There you lie, sleeping peacefully on a bed sheet of roses.
A whole day could be filled just looking at you. One of my many favorite moments to do so is when you make contented faces after having eaten. At the time when you were born, supermarkets in Southern Spain were being raided in a coordinated ‘Robin Hood’ initiative to give food to the poor and needy. With strict austerity measures being enforced by the Spanish government and families increasingly struggling, there is little hope that it will have been the last such action. The supermarket where I buy your diapers has now put a guard on duty. In the streets of Valencia this morning I saw a man pushing a converted baby trolley around from bin to bin, looking for food.
How can I explain this to you: you who are so new to this world and regard it with your lovely big, interested eyes? Despite the fact that there is enough food in the world to feed everyone, people starve. Beautiful babies go hungry in other parts of the world because we have failed to find a system to share out wealth, and food, more evenly.
The Markets dominate the actions of our governments. Due to cutbacks in health spending, a startling figure of some 150,000 ‘illegal’ (what an ugly way to label human beings) immigrants in Spain will be taken out of the public health system in Spain by the end of this month. Health too has become a business, available only to those who can afford it. Some autonomous governments have rebelled against the measure and announced that they will continue treating everyone regardless of their legal status.
In the month of your birth, I have published a novel, dedicated to you, my little one, which paints a frightening scenario if we continue to capitulate to unregulated Capitalism in this way. In the book, public words are sold to appease the greed and profit-hunger of The Market. The first word to be sold is ‘love’.
I love you so. We love you. I love your mother, who cares endlessly for you and sacrifices much for your happiness, as my mother did for mine. Love. Never has the word been so true.
Since your birth, days have flown by and merged effortlessly into at times sleepless nights. But what is sleep anymore, but a mere interlude to next seeing you? Your mere presence makes us happy; your smile changes the world a little bit.
On the day you were born, the world entirely changed for me. Every stranger I met on the street had to know about my newborn little girl, and everyone shared my happiness. An elderly lady walked with me for half an hour to help find a pharmacy that was open: ‘Don’t worry about me, I have time,’ she said, ‘let’s find it for your little daughter.’
On the lift coming back up to see you in the hospital, a woman commented: ‘This lift is so slow, it seems to have been hit by the crisis as well. If this crisis continues like this, we’ll soon be in the streets with machetes, going at each other’s necks.’
Will your generation devise a fairer system of living, or can we join minds and create it already?
Last night at 4am we were up together, watching the news. Together we saw the terrible Civil War in Syria, Assange being granted political asylum in Ecuador, the debate surrounding the supermarket plunderings in Andalusia, and all the time you in my arms, sleepless.
Who can blame you: it was a sweltering August night. It was not the news that made you cry, for you know nothing about our current predicaments yet. In your eyes they are just flashes on a screen. For you everything is simple: sleep, eat, cry a little, regard your new surroundings in this wonderful world, and sleep again.
There is nothing more beautiful than looking at you sleeping, admiring your little features, your soft nose, your expressive mouth, those perfect little ears, your curious and wondrous eyes, the little fingers which you swing around to explore and express, and your long feet which make everyone say you will be a tall woman one day.
When that day comes, you might write a letter to your own little baby, saying just how much things have changed since your old daddy changed your nappies.
Matthias Krug is a novelist and journalist born in Qatar and currently living in Spain. His most recent novel is entitled ‘L’.