Essay: Little big boy

By Ursula Putz (Mission M14, 24.10. 2016).

…and now I am sitting here, having just returned home. It is raining outside, and it is dark. When I left earlier on my bicycle, pulling on my rain cape, a guest of mine said: “There are worse things…,” and I said: “Yes, indeed.”

Water is essential for life… essential? Water is essential… but not only; water can also be deadly… Dead… what a word. Such heaviness, when we encounter death in the family, such sadness, such a burden. Inexpressible. And when we encounter death far away? Or life? What are these thoughts that are revolving in my head?

And not without reason. Was I not travelling on a sea rescue boat on the high seas just over two weeks ago? High seas in the truest sense of the word. There was plenty going on there. At first the sea was calm, but then it demonstrated its power. Did I not see rubber boats in the distance? White rubber boats, full of people, crouched tightly together, hardly able to move. Without an engine, floating.


kleiner-junge-schwimmweste_shrinkAnd there he was. A small boy with large brown eyes. I saw him first when we accompanied him and his mother onto a life raft. I reached out to him, he took my hand and sat down next to his mother. Calmly, looking around in amazement. And it took a long time. His mother put a piece of cloth around his head to protect him from the sun. And they both fell asleep. At some point she signalled to me that he was hungry. I nodded. But in this situation we were not supposed to hand out food to the refugees. Too easily could unrest develop and upset the balance of the life raft. An incalculable risk.

But I could not imagine that on a life raft full of women, anyone would deny a little boy a bit of food. I sneaked into the boat’s kitchen and stole from the cook….stop… not an egg, but a banana. I hid it in my trouser pocket and climbed back onto the life raft.

His large brown eyes were shining when I gave him the banana. Later he placed the banana peel carefully at his feet. And the time was passing. It got late, dusk was falling, and finally the Sea-Eye crew decided to take the refugees on board. And the wait grew even longer. The little boy was there, wrapped in a shiny silvery rescue blanket. The blanket’s inside was golden. How I wish that his future life will also be adorned with some gold. His smile already is. And I will keep it in my heart’s memory.