I saw the picture and it broke my heart the next instant. The intimacy of this father daughter pair represented in a partial and supposed embrace, resonated with the deepest part of my soul and left me with vivid and theatrical scenes of what had underwent. At first instant, its the appearance of a casual and innocent nap that the baby is taking next to his father, but as you look closer and realize where they are actually lying and in what state, your heart is jumps in your mouth. And that is how we human are wired. We will take things on face value in all innocence like the child doing something very childlike viz. napping after a good amount of play with her father or may be praying as they are taught at this age. But this emotion is quickly overthrown by a deeper darker truth, one that leaves a deeper wound.
Migrant Oscar Martinez Ramirez and his 23 month old daughter Valeria, tragically died last month after a huge wave of Rio Grande swept them away leaving them dead. The toddler is tucked into her father’s shirt and was seen wearing red shorts and tiny shoes. The appearance of the embrace between father and daughter is quintessential to the bond that they share and with which I can personally relate. Such images enter our subconscious almost under the radar and then they have an impact which does not wither away easily.
In a lot of way such images makes me realize as a father, that how blessed we are and how much worse it could get or could have been. We do not have to take life threatening decisions for the betterment of the coming generations. We do not have to stay in hiding just so we could live a peaceful life and give our children that hopeful tomorrow. We do not have to separate from our loved ones just so that we can give better life and hope of survival to the same loved ones. Oscar Martinez had to do all the above even when his own mother was advising against it. But he knew within himself. It was this treacherous route or there was no other way. It was this need to provide and protect as a father which compelled him.
Just as he placed the little Valeria on the U.S. side and turned back to get his wife, the little one gave into her most natural instincts. And that was to follow her father where ever he went. It did not matter that it was the ever dangerous Rio Grande or some other deadly path. She jumped behind her father and when Oscar saw this he had to turn back midstream and midway to grab her. In this manner, the father also gave into his most basic instinct without considering the repercussions.
Thinking of it, when I Imagine the alternative in this scenario, it sends chills down my spine. What if the father had survived and the baby swept away with the tide? How would the father feel living life after the incident, if by any hope he would be able to survive the ordeal? Would he have been able to forgive himself? I think Not. The remaining days would see the worst of him and he would be lost in the bottomless pit of self pity and self guilt. The only solace I see here is that they tested the ordeal together as an unlikely father daughter pair, holding onto each other with the same trust and love as before and then they were embraced by God who welcomed them with open arms.
May their onward journey be full of peace and love.
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