Thursday, 6 September 2012

Pen-Friendship with a Prisoner

Pen-Friendship with a Prisoner

I had had pen-friendship with quite a few people. I am fond of writing, writing just any thing. Its a good pass time. But because of many transfers, many house-shiftings, I could not be able to preserve all those letters. Almost all are destroyed. Here I want to share a memory of a prisoner pen-friend who was serving life imprisonment on charge of murder in a Maharashtra prison. I really really was very much afraid, still am, to talk to any prisoner, that too a murderer. But anyhow, it went like this.

That time, I was posted in Mumbai, Maharashtra. It was some time between 1985 and 1988, I do not remember the exact year or date. One person wrote to me after seeing my address in a magazine, stating that he was writing from jail (in a city of Maharashtra), where he was serving life term in a murder case and he took permission from the jail authorities to write to me. MY GOD. I was so much frightened, I did not reply. Then after a month or so, he again wrote, saying, he was fond of reading, he wrote poetry, he wanted to be my pen-friend etc. etc. He sent his poems also. I did reply. After that occasionally, he used to write and I used to reply and sometimes used to send him books, whichever he asked for or on my own. I also sent him some beautiful hand-crafted notebooks, diaries and pens. (I am fond of gifting.) He was below thirty and unmarried at that time. He and his elder married brother, both were serving life imprisonment of fourteen years in the same murder case. He drew a very good picture of that jail, saying that that was the best jail in the country. In jail, they were getting some spiritual lessons and yoga classes (I am forgetting the name of the course, he told me, may be Vipashyanaa), by which they would be able to realize and accept their mistakes and promise themselves to be a better citizen when they would come out. He told me, he had passed seven years (at that time) in the jail and he would be acquitted after total ten years due to his good behaviour. He accepted in a letter that he and his brother had murdered a neighbour over a small issue. In one letter, he wrote to me that whenever my letter reached there, all the inmates used to feel very happy and all were saying Namaste to me. OH ! MY GOD ! Again I felt so scared. Then one day he wrote, he would come to Mumbai (he belonged to Mumbai) on parole for two months and he would like to meet me. I was completely frightened and never wanted to meet any murderer. THANK GOD ! I immediately got the opportunity to fly to Georgetown, Capital of Guyana, South America on my posting in The High Commission of India there. I stayed there for three years and never got the chance to confront him again.

I remember, in some letters, he told me about his desire to get married and settled in life. I wondered, which girl would be ready to marry him? According to him, he could consider any widow, divorcee, even with children. I suggested, he could find any inmate like him there in prison. He replied in a very weird manner, ' No, no, I can not go for such a woman. The girl may be poor, she may be orphan but not from any criminal background.' I was astonished to hear this answer. He was having a spotted-life, still he wanted a spotless bride. I did not know, even today I do not know, whether it is possible or not for him, and for prisoners like him to get a spotless life partner. If such person gets a chance to influence any girl to fall in love with him, to the extent that she is so bold not to care for the society, may be then it is possible.

Every body, though, has got right to re-start his/her life. There may be some NGOs to help such cases in rehabilitation. But I do not think, any person with such a stained life, can find a stainless partner for him. The girls from poor families, even from villages are now so much aware to choose their life partners. In today's time, even widows and divorcees do not go for marriage only for the sake of marriage. Roof on their head is not the criteria for them to get married. They prefer to live alone than in undesirable company and unwanted situation. Single mothers will also not go for such a tainted second father for their child. Thus for prisoners, scope of marrying an untainted clean girl is an unlikely happening.

Regarding Institution of Marriage the whole scenario is changing due to the social awareness and financial independence of girls. Marriage is not the only option to lead a happy life.

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