At the hospital. . .thinking of capital’s measure

hygieia.jpgIn the hospital bed next to my father, there lie a tall and very thin 92 years old man, with closed eyes and a powerful voice, when he decides to produce a sound. His daughter, a grandmother herself in her mid to late 40s, is visiting every day, to feed him and take care of him. “Help!”, he shouts suddenly, “help!”, with a sound that seems to have come from deep down the labirinth of his id. “Here I am” — says she — “I am here to help dad” — she says with a gentle tone. “You ugly beast” — roars the old man with his eyes still closed — “you are not here to help, you are here to throw me in a ditch”. “But what do you say dad” — she lamented while turning to the other side of the bed in embarassment, fearing perhaps that the delirious humiliating insult could be overheard by visitors and nurses. He goes back in his silence, and she picks up the food again: “common dad, eat a bit” and thus saying she near the spoon of soup next to his mouth trying to open it gently. She manages to pour a bite in his mouth, but he would not swallow. She put the bowl down, and put a wet towel on his forehead. “He lost the will to live”, she says to me, while he groans with his mouth still closed. Few instants later, she realises that he had swallowed, and tries again to feed him another spoon. Every day, for hours, she will be alerted to changes in his mood, so as to seize the right moment to intervene with an action that may help to give him confort on prolong his life. Only she knows whether her dad’s words spoken during the delirium are just that, or instead echo a life of patriarchal abuse. Only she knows how long she is willing to endure the care she is giving to him. And while I witness the patience and dedication of this woman, her ongoing changing strategy, alertedness and patience, I think of how different this activity would be under the spell and compulsion of capital’s measure. She seem to have no targets to meet by a given time under the havy breath of a supervisor. She seems to have no benchmark to measure her activity with, so as to qualify it as “efficient”. A part for the “affect” that her action reveals for itself, she seems to have no need to show “affect” to whimful “costumers” aware of their “rights”. The time she takes, and the action she perform are what she believes are needed. She is the only one who knows how much, how long, until when to give.

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