Aylan Kurdi; the Swallow of Humanity

Nooshabeh Amiri
Nooshabeh Amiri

When they threw the toddler from the Syrian town of Kobani into water, he only imagined playing in it, splashing and flapping, as he laughed with joy, chanting like a swallow.

What else could he know at three, other than playing?

But he sensed the anxiety in his father’s eyes and felt the moving from one place to the next. He witnessed his mother’s distresses. But these lasted only for a moment and all that stays at this age are the games, laughter, joy and fun.

He viewed water as a place to splash and have fun, and of course did not realize that just a mouthful of it could end his fun and turn him into a float that would be washed onto some foreign shore.

He did not know that the world would be in a few hours staring at his little sneakers, his red shirt, his pulled up pant, showing his tiny leg in dismay and shock.

War-mongers, power-dreamers and tyrants took little Aylan to play with water. For them the world is not the field to live in peace but a place of hate and despotism. These tyrants cannot be among people. They exist simply at the non-existence of others, of humanity. They are sunk in corruption, deceit and immorality. They lay the puzzle of death, one using religion another money.

But that is a different story that I do not wish to talk about now. They make me feel filthy and I have no patience for this much dirt. Instead, I like to talk of people who still have a heart that beats, eyes that see, and a conscience that is alive. Millions of people across the world whose peaceful sleep was disturbed, whose breath stopped and whose compassion went beyond cries of “how unfortunate” when they learned of Aylan. They realized that tears and words were not the response; something had to done. And hundreds people across cities and towns did; they poured into streets. A young girl went to welcome the refugees with a heart-shaped note in her hand that read “Forgive us,” a young man shared his son’s room with Aylan’s playmates, a young prime minister gave his house – not just a toy - to the refugees, a grandmother wrapped up her bread and went to meet the other Aylans so that after days of deprivation they would again taste bread. Politicians too woke up to realize that they had to be with people to remain in office and had to listen to them. They had to accept that people are people, regardless of where they come from or where they were born. And then there were the large crowds that gathered in city squares to show that humanity was alive. A universal display of compassion and action.

But little Aylan is not here any longer, just like Neda left us with her open eyes a few years ago (in Iran). But he has made the difference and started something; the message that others like him must stay.

Aylan Kurdi, the three-year toddler from Kobani, we miss you here with us!  People all over the world whisper your name in different languages. And with your name, spread a red carpet of welcome to other toddlers and children.

These children will play in the water for you. They will really play. They will not be drifted onto some foreign shore. They will sing with the swallows. They will no longer hear the screams of Bashar nor the cries of the war-mongers or the tyrants.

Aylan! The little big man, the toddler who did not live but who gave life. You are not here but the force that has risen from your little body is settling on the whole world. We hope this will leave its embossed impression. We hope this will create a permanent image for all of us, an image that will not rest with a simple “what a pity” but one that will move us to act and do something and narrow the field for the tyrants.

Sleep in peace, little one, as through your sleep you have awakened the whole world.