Wedge within the wet and sand sprinkle laces of the boy’s sneakers, a
half-eaten lollipop. It manages to remain when the boat capsized. This
child – just another victim and no different from the many migrants, he had
extracted from the waters of the Kos. However, this death popped the lid on his capped emotions. Years of witnessing this genre of fatalities suddenly rocks him. Weeping, he
stumbles up the shore with the limp body cradled in his arms. Behind him, a deflated yellow and black
dinghy flaps back and forth against the folding and frothy undulations.
Turkish migrants, dehydrated and emaciated step out rubber boats onto the Kos’ shores to freedom, daily. While others are washed up against its sand beaten shores. Migrants storm these shores in the midst of vacationing tourists and local Greeks sunbath -- enjoying its emerald green waters. The migration will continue as long as a chance for a
better life is viable. The coast guard rescuers have come to
realize that hope oftentimes is an appointment with death.
As the rescuer reaches the heart of the shore, he approaches a
man in the near distance sitting on the pebble and sand ridden beach. His knees
drawn into his chest. Eyes cast to his soggy shoes. Visible matted sandy grains masks the canvass shoes. He sobs inconsolably and mumbles audibly to himself.
“Everything I was dreaming of is gone…” He says in his native tongue holding fast to his wife's pale and bluish hand. She lays next to him like a soaked wound towel. A slipper missing from one foot.
"Did you see my other son?" The man says in a crack voice while the ocean breaks against its selfish swells.
“Sir, could this be your boy?” The rescuer asks in a quite and respectful tone.
The man did not respond but barely takes sight of the dangling shoe strings of the child in the rescuer's arms. He would be able go hold on, if it is. He needs a little more time to digest all that has transpired and so quickly.
“Is this your wife?, Sir."
The man nods.
“Did you bring your wife to shore?”
‘Yes.” His answer almost inaudible.
“Is the boy next to ... uh... Um... her, your wife ... is he your son?”
“The man nods.”
Is this child ..." a pause ensues. "This child ... in my arms, sir ... is he your boy as well?"
The man finally looks up. Eyes as wet as the ocean that crashes its belligerent waves mockingly -- not stopping once to acknowledge what it had taken from him. He returns an empty stare at it in disbelief.
"Yes." He whispers but no sound expels as the rescuer clearly reads his lips.
The other boy lying next to his mother appears to be at least five-years old. How would he carry on … but he
must and he will. The rescuer stands on weak legs lost in reflection. He then bends to place the child's body next to his brother and mother.
Along the tourist ridden beach of the Kos, other rescuers covers the dead. The shoreline poses an obvious outline of white sheets over crumpled mounds along its seemingly endless shore. Sirens are blaring continuously in succession while waves reverberate in the rear. For this husband and father, his inward torment expels outwards. He punches the beach repeatedly. He raise his hands to his ears silencing the relentless splashing of the ocean and the piercing lamentations of the mourners all around him. Damning reminders of his loss.
This was not Ahmet Kaya first visit to the shores of the Greek Isle of Kos. In fact,
it is his fourth. He had brought family members, friends and
strangers, safely to Greece over the years. He would, of course, request a fee from strangers, for his life-threatening services over these treacherous waters. It was only when he was sure of his expertise within these waters, that he brought his precious ones across. However, as fate would have it,
the unpredictability of the weather was not on his side.
Ahmet was detained for the better part of the day. Left alone and unattended in the police vehicle. Sympathies ran long this day for the survivors of the deceased migrants. Therefore, the law did not handcuff him. Ahmet made his escape taking quick, self-assured strides towards and beneath the life guard’s post where he stayed until night fall.
He spends those hours lamenting over his loss. I was ready for the trek – knew the waters -- an experienced
sailor. I checked the weather several times over. The weatherman predicted it
to be clear skies. How could I have known? I had no way of knowing… How could I have known?
He must allow himself redemption -- forgiveness. He will not think on this day neither as a failure nor a loss. After all, he carries them in his heart – memories of this day – never to be erased. He must make amends for his losses. It would not be in vain. He punches the pebbly shore until his knuckles are raw and bleeding. He rips hard at the earth loosening its top layer uncovering two pillow cases stuffed to capacity with loose Turkish currency. The wealth of fees he had amassed over the years of transporting his country folks to Greece.
Sobbing even harder now. He knows what he must do ... what must be done. Vision
blurs from the downpour of tears, he swings the sacks over his shoulders. He
makes is way to the roadway and into an awaiting car. His cousin as usual,
arrives at the promised time -- midnight.
Two years later….
The Kaya Four is complete and ready for its maiden voyage to Ahmet’s homeland, Turkey. It would make many more journeys to and from the shore of Kos with no fatalities. An obsession that would not have come to fruition had Ahmet's wife and two sons survived the journey. Ahmet had envisioned a life of luxury in Greece with friends and family. The fact remains, he would not have realized his true destiny. He would have turned a blind eye to the continued inhumanities of his homeland and his people.
The best laid plan of mice and men disrupts. For God, in his mercy spares Ahmet. God's grace allowed Ahmet Kaya the opportunity to embrace the bigger
picture and to fulfill his purpose in life.
Savior of Kos by many in his homeland, Ahmet did not stop at trafficking
illegals to the Greek shores. He took it a step forward, insuring all migrants a way to secure their citizenship or to a lesser degree, working papers in their new homeland. Ahmet Kaya would never be able to bring his wife and sons back but the savior of Kos will continue on until his life is no more. He will be remain in the heart of all Turks forever.