Unexpected Prison Visitor
Unexpected Prison Visitor4 mins 214 4 mins 214
“Sitaram you have a visitor” the lanky guard announced. I was taken aback. “A visitor, someone come to see me?” No one had ever visited me in the last more than two years that I have been behind the bars. At the time of entry I had however mentioned the names of Vijay and two other friends in the visitor’s list but it was like they had disappeared off the face of the earth. Perhaps they feared meeting me may aggravate their situation as they were also under trial for various charges. They had abandoned me when things turned nasty; it was yet another valuable lesson in life that people generally won’t stand beside you at the time of suffering. When things were going good and I was of some use to them they cared about me. But, after conviction I was left to rot in my own miserable life. I had reconciled to the awful fact of being deserted. However, I was more curious to learn who the visitor was.
The fish net partition that separated the inmates and the visitors was an interesting area. Visitors and inmates, would wail, shout and express helplessness. Visitors would slip their fingers through the narrow holes just for a touch of their near one who stood on the other side as prisoner. I saw more pain in the eyes of the inmates after they had visitors. A visitor brought to their lives the feeling of real separation, if there were no system of visits life would have been more peaceful.
I walked towards the meeting area. My turn came after a long wait. But I didn’t mind. Waiting is one aspect that prisoners end up mastering. There are inmates who wait their entire life not knowing what they are actually waiting for.
“Sitaram” announced the guard. I stood facing the fish net partition. On the other side I saw an old man, long grey beards and hairs. He wore tattered saffron sadhu dress. “Why the hell has a monk come to meet me and how did he manage to arrange a visit”. Visitors without names in the list generally are not allowed a meeting. “There must be some mistake” I reasoned.
The old man walked closer to the partition, looked deeply in my eyes and raised his hand. I was perturbed. “Beta, how are you” he said. The voice sounded familiar but I could not make out anything of it. “I know, you won’t recognize me, you were this small when I left” he gestured my height with his palm while expressing how young I was then.
I looked at him with askance. My mind was racing and was looking for clues.
“You have grown up as a young man. Even after these many years my eyes could recognize you in the first glance” he went on.
I wanted to ask, so many questions in mind, but my mouth simple remained open, no sound came out of it.
“I’m your father” he said while lowering his head. My mind reeled, my father, he had disappeared one fine day without any trace. And now he has surfaced out of nowhere and how did he manage to trace me.
“I looked for you in the entire town. Met so many people, I went to all the places and could finally trace you, your friends of the locality helped me with this meeting” he spoke with a lump in his voice.
Tears rolled from my eyes, my father, I have someone of my own in this world. But, the next moment was gripped with fury. Where was he when I had to frantically look for my mother in the hospital only to find her body abandoned in the mortuary. I was just a boy then, I didn’t know whether to mourn or to arrange for her funeral. I was all alone in this world, went to sleep with empty stomach, people trashed me for no fault of mine and I had no one to go to. Where were you all these years when I needed you, when I missed your comforting arms, where were you when I wanted your hands to hold me in my times of distress. I looked at his face, I could now see resemblance of my father, an older version of him but nonetheless it was he. He had turned frail but his gait was the same. He also had tears in his eyes. I wiped my tears and walked back towards my barrack. I spoke not a word. He kept calling me “Sita, Sita, my boy, please forgive me…” My heart churned to turn and run towards him but my anger overwhelmed me. I ran away. I ran to unknown corners of the prison, I wanted some solitude but prison is one place where you find no privacy. I wept while I ran.
I could hear my own voice “I hate you, I hate you”.