THE DAUGHTER AND HER IMPRISONED FATHER
Disgusting! Crap! Taboo! Reprehensible! And God knows what more hard words you must have blurted out as soon as you saw the above extremely sensitive image as painted by Europe’s great artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, in which a tensed young daughter is seen looking towards somewhere and in the meantime also breastfeeding her old and weakened father in a prison.
Like you, I too got utterly shocked or literally vibrated after seeing this morally-sensitive and socially-unacceptable image. Most of us being family members must have harshly criticized the image shown above in every possible manner. Right? Isn’t it! The truth behind such pathetic but commonly immoral image is more heart-cleaving one than the picture itself.
The picture when came open in front of the world, shocked the entire morals-guarding priestly and social class like us. They berated and lambasted the picture in the meanest of the manner in which they could. But sadly, when they came to know about the real story behind the highly-sensitive image, they too shed their tears of shame and compassion. Shame in the sense, they couldn’t realize the grand and sacred relationship between a father and his daughter on seeing the image at the first sight. And compassion in the sense, they came one to one with their sleeping conscience and humanity drilled deep down in their soul.
The man seen in the image is the fateful and destiny-struck father of the girl who in the image is also seen breastfeeding her old, weakened and ailing father languishing in a jail. Her father had been imprisoned and she used to pay a regular visit to her in the jail.
The guards at the duty in the jail didn’t allow any kind of food or liquid stuff to be taken by the daughter into the jail for her old and incapacitated father. Whenever they searched or frisked the girl and found her carrying such food items, they snatched them away from her and so she had nothing left with her to feed her lovely father who was very adorable to her. She was having deep regards for him. One day, the guards got angry and irritated and they gave no-nonsense warning to the girl forbidding her to repeat such breach of the law again.
With the each pass of day, the father of the girl was getting old and weak. And the day came when she no more bore the mounting sufferings and the weakness of her father and decided to do the unthinkable.
As usual, she again went to meet her imprisoned father and was again thoroughly searched and frisked and only then she was allowed to meet her father in the prison. And the moment she saw her extremely worn out and weedy father, she got internally moved and let her breasts come bare (keeping her watchful eyes towards the direction of the gate of the prison) in front of her father and started feeding him with her milk.
She was just in the midst of feeding her father when the patrolling soldiers caught her red handed with her ailing father. She was immediately taken into custody for breaching the law of the land.
This rare but earth-shaking event caught the attention of the whole world and a kind of debate was initiated in both Spain and Europe in which humanitarian, social and ethical values were relooked again as far as the relationship between a father and a daughter was concerned. Such debate altered the entire attitude of the authority with whose instructions both the father and the daughter were held accused, and they (the authority) felt compelled to release them at last without any mark of disgrace on the characters of the father and the daughter.
About the painter of the above image: Bartolomé Esteban Murillo was born in 1617 and died in April 3, 1682. He was a Spanish Baroque painter. He produced a considerable number of paintings of contemporary women and children. These lively, realist portraits of flower girls, street urchins, and beggars constitute an extensive and appealing record of the everyday life of his times