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“Why are we running, Mother?” the three-year-old boy asked.
“Because there is a better life awaiting you, my son.”


The desert was dark and desolate, as always. The small company of four was fleeing from their hostile homeland to less hostile foreign lands. The usurpers had emerged from their brethren, and they were now the prosecutors. The world had turned upside down, there was no more law or order, and it seemed as if they would be trapped forever in the crossroads of history.


“How much longer will we have to run?” the boy panted.
“A little while longer, Aylan. It will all end soon.”


Aylan missed home, his friends, the playground, the wide open spaces. He was a restless child, mischievous and adventurous. But this particular adventure seemed too tedious and endless. They had left home late one night, several nights ago, and it seemed as if since then life had become a ceaselessly perpetuating night.


“Father, the darkness is frightening me!”
“The darkness will light our way. We’ll succeed. Keep faith, Aylan.” his father consoled him as they approached the boat.


The boat was very small, but it provided all the space in the world for Aylan’s family. They huddled together with twelve others as the speck of wood set sail for the islands that invented civilization.


“We have left the shores of anarchy, we are free!”
“Let’s hope the civilized world is kinder to us.”


The night was black, starless, and moonless. There was only dark water as far as the eye could see. In the middle of this infinite shadow an infinitesimal dot carrying sixteen rapidly beating hearts struggled against the imposing waves.


Aylan had never been to the sea before. From his desert home he had heard much about it and dreamt much about it. He was only used to endless expanses of sand; endless expanses of water seemed surreal. He had spent long, delightful afternoons conjuring images of the ocean in his mind: mythical creatures, fantasy islands, bloodthirsty pirates, titanic waves and unreal occurrences: the boy’s imagination refused to be chained.


“Mother, the ocean is so vast, yet only this small boat has a place for us!” Aylan remarked.
The world is so big and yet it couldn’t offer a place for a three-year-old boy with a billion aspirations, infinite dreams and a smile that just wouldn’t give up.


A wave rocked the namesake boat with fury, angered that foreign blood was floating on its imperial waters. A second wave hit the boat, and one of the refugees began to sob and scream. No one consoled her; despair was the only companion each of them had.


The third wave was the first bullet. The plank began to groan and creak, and the passengers erupted in anguish. It was cruel that they were destitutes in the middle of nowhere, but death seemed less cruel than the suspense of death.


“Oh merciful God above, save us, protect us!”
Everyone on the boat was praying feverishly. The God who had abandoned them at home was supposed to help them hundreds of miles away in the unknown.


But no God or angel would help the hapless, stateless, luckless citizens of the boat. Wave after wave rocked them – it was the genesis of the end. Aylan’s father struggled to hold on to his family even as the boat gave in to the might of the Mediterranean to become one with the ocean.


“They died in my arms.”


The world was shocked. Pundits analyzed the war all over again, diplomats blamed each other with classy literature, reporters played high definition graphics for audiences, poets wrote lengthy tributes to the deceased…. But none of it mattered.


What mattered was the question posed by the five-year-old girl in Boston, the four-year-old boy in Beijing, the seven-year-old child in Riyadh and the six-year-old kid in Delhi.


“Why was Aylan punished?”

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Hundreds of miles away in the underworld of the ocean, Aylan Kurdi was drifting in the darkness.
Slowly drifting away.
Mother Nature was so powerful that she had defeated a three year old.
Mankind was so modern and progressive that it had felt threatened by a three year old.


“Why are we running, Mother?”
“Because there is a better life awaiting you, my son.”


His soul was forever free.
But his body would shake the world and awaken governments.


The numbness of viscosity and eternal sleep pillowed his underwater flight. Denizens of the ocean guided him through the unknown, lightly caressing his cold, tiny palms. Aylan felt no fear, no nostalgia, no trepidation. The world above him was tearing itself apart, but he was far away from that world now.


“Freedom is in the water.”


Image Courtesy: www.pixabay.com

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