Why this heartbreaking image needs to be seen

Rashmi Singh
Rashmi SinghSep 05, 2015 | 15:44

Why this heartbreaking image needs to be seen

* Aylan Kurdi was three years old. Like kids his age, he would have happily hopped on to the boat that was taking him to another land. He would have looked at the vast expanse of sea with awe, huddling on his mother's lap every time his dingy lost balance. When it capsized, his panic-stricken tiny being would have struggled to stay afloat, splashing hard against water, trying to latch onto anybody who could offer him hope of life. Hours later, his lifeless body washed onto the Turkish shores.


* Abdullah Kurdi was a happy father of two sons, three-year-old Aylan, and four-year-old Galip. When the boat overturned, all that the horrified father could have done was to fight against the waves pushing his sons into the sea. He held them in his arms as they cried, "Daddy, don't die!" until one by one, they breathed their last. Then, he let them go. Hours later, the lifeless body of his younger son, lying face down, in his blue shorts, red T-shirt, and baby shoes, was discovered on the shores of Turkey.

The world debates whether this image should have been released or not: That this is not how the three-year-old's father would have imagined to see him. This is not how he would want to remember him. For the grieving father's sake, the image shouldn't have been published. At least his memory of Aylan could have been a more peaceful one.

The argument about the line which press photographs shouldn't cross can go on. The picture is said to have depressed many. It should have. Irrespective of whether the picture was released or not, Aylan Kurdi's death is a reality. The moment his father surrendered his lifeless body to the waves would torment him for the rest of his life, so will the death of his elder son, and the bloated body of his wife. But, if it weren't for this photograph the world wouldn't have woken up to the plight of refugees. They would still be a "less interesting story" in this part of the world, economic and social burden in some other parts, and for the rest of the world a little more than dry numbers released every year by the United Nations high commissioner for refugees.


Be it the European migrant crisis or the Rohingyas stuck in the sea, the world has failed to help escapees from conflict-torn areas who take treacherous journeys in hope of better life. Countries close the doors to them. For some reason, refugees are a political question instead of a human one.

If it weren't for this photograph, this too would have been an inside page news of another dinghy capsizing. Another lot of refugees, abandoned by the traffickers, dying in the sea; a recurring news with changing context.

This time it was different. This time it was about a child thrown up on beach by waves which engulfed him. It's heartbreaking. It haunts. If only he was alive. If only he could be picked up and told he was okay. He reached the shores too late!

Last updated: September 05, 2015 | 18:48
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