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A quest for a better life

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I was scared as we got into the boat but I remember what my father had said to me-

“don’t worry sweetheart, it is a short boat ride and then all will be fine. You and your brother will have a better life, you will have friends, you will be able to go to school and you will not have to see people get hurt. Your mother and I will always take care of you and things will be normal again”.

I had always been scared of the water and it was so dark, but I held onto my dad’s hand as we got in. There were not many people on the boat but all of them looked as scared and tired as I was. We sat in a small corner – my father putting his arms around my brother and I, as we sat on either side with our mother sitting behind us. I looked back to see her but I couldn’t – it was so dark but I felt her hand on my head. I could always recognise her touch – it was always the same – warm and always made me feel calm.

The boat had just started going into the sea and it was very bouncy and I was falling off the seat. I held onto my father very tightly but it did not seem to be getting any better. We could hear the waves outside and some of the women started to weep. I was scared and just held onto my father even harder. It had not been long and the sea was really rough and all of a sudden water was coming into our boat. People were screaming now and very soon my shoes and legs were all wet. We had fallen off our seat and my brother was hurt and crying. I could hear him say to my dad “don’t die daddy” and I was thinking the same. My dad kept saying “don’t worry, I will always take care of you” even as he waded in the water, holding us and telling the people to remain calm.

Before we knew it, water was all over the boat, then we heard a big noise and all of a sudden we had all fallen into the sea. It was dark and scary and people were screaming. My dad was holding me and my brother under his arms so tightly that it was hurting me. But I didn’t complain – atleast I knew he was there and we were safe. He would not let anything happen to us. The waves were splashing us all around and I could feel his grip on me getting looser. I held onto him with my hands but I couldn’t get my arms around him completely. I tugged at his shirt to make sure I was still holding him. I was under the water and I couldn’t breathe any more.

Then all of a sudden, a big wave came and with that force I was thrown away, I could no longer hold onto his shirt. I was falling down. I wanted to call him but water went into my mouth when I tried to shout. I wanted to cry and say I was scared but even more water was going in. I was slipping away further from my dad and as I fell deeper I could feel his leg, then his shoes and then nothing at all.

I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t see and I was just falling down…Then all of a sudden I hit the floor.

I don’t know how long I slept but I remember hearing my mother’s voice calling out to me “wake up sweetheart its time to go”. I could feel her caress my face and kiss my forehead. It was always how she woke me up every morning and I would never forget it. I lazily opened my eyes expecting to see my bed and my room and my toys. But it wasn’t my room, it wasn’t my bed and I didn’t see my toys. There was water all around and I was on the ground. My mother was kneeling next to me and smiling as she always would, my brother was standing at a distance and he didn’t seem very happy. I don’t know why though.

I looked around and saw some of other people from our boat also sitting near-by. Some were asleep while some were awake and looking around. As I looked at my mother again I realised that while I was still under water it was not like yesterday. It was calm, I could breathe and even speak. It was brighter, not dark and cold like last night. I was not scared anymore. I think we had reached where my father had said we were going. But I couldn’t see him anywhere.

I turned my head and tried to find him as far as I could see but I didn’t see him. As I was searching, I heard my mother say

“lets go sweetie, its our time to go now”.

“But ma”, I said “I don’t see dad anywhere. Let’s find him and take him with us”.

“no sweetie, he will come later, we must go now”.

She held our hands and started walking up from the floor. We were going up the water and very soon we reached the top. It was bright and we were flying up in the air from the water. I was so excited. I had always wanted to fly and now it was true. We were going to touch the sky. I was so happy. My dad had told me I would have a better life but he never told me I would be able to fly.

Hey, but I still couldn’t see him anywhere.

As we were high up, I saw the water below and I thought I saw my dad holding onto a big wooden plank. I tugged at my mother and told her

 “look ma, dad’s there, lets take him. Dad – dad, can you hear me. We’re here, come with us”. But he couldn’t hear us. My mother then spoke and said “darling he will come in his time, right now its our time”.

But I couldn’t understand, we were a family, he had told us that we would always be together and now how could we leave him and go. I tried to shout out to him again but we were too high up in the sky and he couldn’t hear us.

It was only much later that my mother told me why he couldn’t come with us – he was still alive. Now it all made sense, why the water was so calm, why I wasn’t scared and why I could fly. This is not what my dad had planned for us but we had no choice. We needed to get out of our country. We had lost too many of our people to war and everyday someone would be hurt and it was too dangerous to stay there. That’s when my dad told us that he would take us all very far away where we would be safe, even if it was the last thing he did.

My mother also told me that he had been crying since the time we had died and he blamed himself all the time. He was saying that he would go back to our country and live there until he died, he didn’t want to live anywhere else without us. And then I saw it all. My body had washed up on shore and I was wearing the same clothes I wore when we got on the boat that night. In time they also found my brother and my mother and the whole world mourned our death. My dad was a broken man, he would cry all the time and keep saying how he felt us slip away into the water that night. He blamed himself for what had happened to us and had we stayed in our country we would still have been together.

My mother told me that many people were saying that I was murdered by the cold heart of people and not the cold water and she hated them for letting us die like this. But I don’t know what to think, I don’t hate anybody but I really wish I was just with my dad.   Maybe when people saw my photos and our bodies they would be more accepting of people like us and not let us die again. But I don’t know anything anymore.

I met this young boy now and he tells me he is from Sudan. He tells me that his photo also made the world cry but that was a long time ago. Yet even today people let us die. I don’t know why.

I just want to meet my father, hold him, play with him and tell him I love him. He was the best father and I know he was doing all he could to make our life better.

I want to tell him “Dad, don’t cry. You did nothing wrong. Don’t be guilty, you tried your best. Don’t waste the rest of your life just waiting to meet us. We are happy now and will be waiting for you on the opposite side. In time, we will be together. In time, people will understand and I pray they will not let this happen again”

 But I know he will not get over this ever. Earlier, I would always play with him when he was upset and that would make it better but I cant do anything now.

I just want to say ‘Dad I miss you’

Aylan Kurdi

Note – the above is the blogger’s own interpretation of publicly available information.

 

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Home

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Ahhhhh home.
You and I grew up together.
You saw me learn my first alphabet
You saw me learn to ride a bike
You saw me have my first drink
You saw me watch my first dirty movie bunking school
You saw me with my first girlfriend
You saw me break her heart
You saw me have my heart broken
You saw me make my closest friends
Yow saw me become a painful teenager and a mature man

We have been through so much together
Yet whenever I come to you, it’s like I never left
It’s like I am that young boy again even though I now come with my little one.

Brothers in arms

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Friends tend to play an integral part in one’s life and I may even stick out my neck – as much as family.  With family, many a time, one has to really consider that you don’t burden them when thing are not going right. No matter what they say, they will always worry and sometimes the pain it causes them is really not worth it. Friends, on the other hand, will always be concerned and be there for you but they also can be pragmatic and distance themselves emotionally from the situation.  As a dear friend puts it ‘sometimes you need to be transactional in your approach with a situation or person” devoid of the emotional baggage that may have been there. And family maybe cannot do it coz they are just so involved with you.

I believe that a fundamental difference between men and women really comes from their need or desire for friends. While a person’s circle of friends is largely driven by their personalities it is also, to some extent, influenced by their gender.  Without offending anyone, I think I have seen that women would tend to have more friends – the uplifter, the travel buddy, the truth teller, the girl who just wants to have fun etc. (truth be told – there’s some bit of Oprah and Cosmo in this profoundness :)).  So how many friends does a man need?  Well, a guy may have a lot of buddies but there will always be a ‘brother’ or bro…… There’s so much about the ‘bro code” that I will leave that for later.

I have been lucky enough to really have 2 bros in my life.  While they shall remain anonymous, like me, they entered my life at very different times and stages.  Yet today I cannot imagine my life being really complete without their individual contributions.

I met my first bro in school and we went onto become thick as thieves.  He was the cool dude who had a way with the girls. He could sing and very honestly there as not much that 16 year old girls wanted other than a boy to serenade them.  I never had that talent and we would always look upto him for juicy tid-bits and ‘lessons in smoothness’.   From 15 years old to now over two decades later, we have seen each other through relationships, marriages, kids and professional changes.  Today our lives are busy and we don’t speak as often but when we do – we pick up where exactly we left off – maybe a few weeks and sometimes a few months.  When we are together, we are still 17 year old ‘boys’ discussing the ‘girls’ that got away, the girls now and laughing at dirty jokes we found funny as adolescents .  He and I are living proof that boys are dirty boys, age notwithstanding.  We still laugh about how the higher power has gotten back at us by making us fathers of very pretty little girls :).  There are no expectations to continually be in contact or really keep asking what we are upto.  But we both know that the other will always be there when we need each other. I don’t see us any different even 20 years from now.

I met my second bro more recently, when I was going through a vulnerable stage in my life. I credit him for introducing me to the wonderful world of single malts. On that pure joy alone – he would qualify as a bro 🙂 but he has been so much more than that.  From giving pragmatic advice to counseling me to just beating sense into my head when it needed to be done. He was always there.  We met in the most unusual circumstances (which is separate blog in itself) and our friendship developed over some bar hopping, and half burgers in the wee hours of the morning (after all men in amazing physical shape as ourselves, could not afford the calories of a complete burger :)).  We’ve taken a road trip, got completely wasted and yet not been embarrassed the next morning…. Ok so it was more me than him…but that’s what bros are all about.  We can talk about sensible stuff (he talks more and I listen soaking in the knowledge being dished out) or just go back into the past when we were younger men, our school, the life and just be bumbling young men.

Funny story, that I was actually friends with his wife before we became bros….. She was my agony aunt and would listen to all my nonsensical rants and yet would give me common sense advice.  We have often laughed over her taking credit for connecting us and I can imagine her at some level being a little (just a little) jealous that I am actually writing about bros before I write about our friendship.  But she’s a sweetheart and would totally understand.

So I stand here today and realize that most men get through life with lots of buddies and maybe a bro and while I may not have many buddies but I have two totally cool bros who I would not trade for anything. So gents, take a bow for being such an integral part of my life.

If I had a hall of fame, you’d be the first on that!!!!!!!!!