distribution of knowledge is a scholarly obligation
Saturday, August 29, 2015
Boy, Mother, and Soldiers - Reflections over a Picture
Look at the picture above and read below.
This picture captures a live spectacle of tyranny. I don’t know who took this picture. Defying customs, the owner has not scribbled his or her identity on the picture. It appears the owner published this picture as a piece of charity for the world to see oppression. I am assuming the woman behind the boy is the boy’s mother. I don’t know where this picture is taken. It could be the Indian-occupied Kashmir, it could be Gaza or West Bank, it could be the Kurdish area in Iraq or Turkey, or it could be somewhere in Libya or Syria. It could be a border area in California or Texas. It could be any place in this big bad world. However, my eyes and my heart tell me this picture is taken in a Muslim occupied land.
There are three main characters in the picture: soldiers, boy, and the mother. Let me interpret these three characters as I see them. Grateful to the photographer, I interpret this snapshot to make a few observations.
There are four soldiers in the picture. Two soldiers are grabbing the boy. The third soldier is using his arm to establish a barricade between son and the mother. The fourth soldier is walking on the road, a bit away, much like an extra character in a play staged in an open air theater, extra but not redundant. This fourth soldier, whose shadow on the road is most perfectly etched, completes the formation of oppression by protecting the other three soldiers towing the boy and holding off the mother. Shadows of the three soldiers interfusing with shadow of the boy are touching the mother’s real body.
The soldiers are helmeted protecting their heads and faces but boy and mother are bare-faced and bare-headed, showing their black hair; and, the mother’s hijab is sliding back on her head as if for the moment religious obligation to cover is not that important. Though fully concealed in gear, soldiers appear to be white males. Possibly, one of the two soldiers holding the boy could be a white female. It’s not surprising since women are ardent operators in producing oppression or what they see fighting for their nation under siege.
The boy looks young, much younger than a teenager. He could be 9, 8, or 7 years old. He is not big in body. He looks skinny and yet agile and packed with energy. The soldiers are stretching the boy’s arms, forcing him to look like a butterfly. Maybe, the boy is in pain as four stern hands are restraining his frail arms. Wearing short pants barely covering his knees, the boy’s T-shirt seems to have been made out of an American flag. The boy appears to be fashionable as he is wearing a fancy (cheap) wrist watch, a possible trigger for detonating a possible bomb. The boy’s legs are lifted in the air as the soldiers are determined to sever the boy’s contacts with the land below. The boy appears to be defiant.
A black gun is hanging down in front of the boy. It is unclear whether the gun belongs to the boy or the soldier. If the boy was carrying the gun, it seems strapped to his thigh. If the soldier was carrying the gun, it seems to have fallen off his/her waistband. In any event, the gun is attached to a body since it is hanging over the shadows and not falling on the ground. Of course, the soldier must be carrying a gun, as all soldiers do. The picture does not tell us conclusively whether the hanging black gun is the soldier’s gun or the boy’s.
Mother is distressed, stretching her hand to retrieve the boy from the soldiers. Her mouth is open, saying something, saying perhaps: leave him alone, let him go, don’t take him, he’s hurting, he didn’t do anything, he’s innocent, please don’t hurt him, please don’t hurt him, I beg you please let him go, O My God, my boy’s hurting, they are going to put him in prison, I won’t see my boy again, how can I let him go, please let him go, please, please, please. . .