Yesterday I cried as I watched the reunion of Euna Lee with her daughter Hannah as it occurred live on T.V. This young Korean mother who was granted amnesty along with Laura King after Bill Clinton's visit to North Korea to secure their release, had eyes for no one else but her daughter. The little girl will perhaps never know the anguish that her mother has endured, wondering during her detention if she would ever see her baby again in the near future.
Children are often perplexed and embarrassed by the outburst of sudden emotions we as parents display; tight hugs that linger longer than normal, or mushy words that pop out unguarded, and other such "transgressions" that appear uncool ! Mithun is thirty, six feet four inches tall, and yet when I see him I still am consumed with the desire to embrace him in a hug and hold him there forever!! I often get the "chill ma" look from him when he senses I am in one of "those moods", and I promptly get the cat on my lap from him as a substitute instead!!!
But on a more serious note, I know the anguish of separation from ones child. When I left to study in London the terms and conditions of my scholarship were that I would not be permitted to return to India during my duration of study, and I accepted the terms of the foundation. The day I was to leave Baroda, I went as usual to the school bus stop and waved good bye to my son, as he went to school as was the normal practice. I had tutored myself for days that I would not show my emotions to anyone, and I am normally very good at concealing my hurt or pain from others, so I was completely caught unawares myself when I broke down and wept as though my life was torn apart.
The difference here was that I was embarking upon a life's journey that would test my emotional self, but it was one of choice, and most importantly I knew the exact time of separation from my son and also knew that in a moments notice I could be reunited with him if need be. Euna Lee never knew if she would ever see her baby for the next twelve years and must have felt the deepest indescribable pain within her self, every moment of her detention in North Korea that separated her from little Hannah. For me the face of Euna Lee as she embraced her baby for the first time after her ordeal will remain imprinted in my mind forever as one of the most poignant emblems of love I have ever witnessed. No words can actually translate this pure emotion. It's just simply an unconditional love that is truly sublime and where no thought of the self even remotely exists.
Photograph by Surendran Nair - Kerala