As I returned home from the funeral, it felt like I had lost a part of myself. It was irreplaceable. I loved my father more than anything. A thousand memories shuffled through my brain like a black jack deck. But one specific instance from about 15 years ago, always stands out.
I looked outside, sitting alongside the window pane, still drowsy. It appeared to be a gloomy day or at least that’s what I thought of every Monday. My father used to drop me to school and then go to work. I always thought school was fun, learned cool things every now and then and the library was enormous. The ubiquitous stacks of books could make ones head spin. My mother was a homemaker. Well, she used to teach Social sciences in a government school a while back but then she called it quits to devote more time to the family. My father was a correctional officer in a prison facility, that means he always had tons of stories to tell us, most of which my mother didn't want me hear. She thought it would be too mature for me. Nevertheless I would always stay curious to know more and more about my dad's profession.
One day my uncanny crave of visiting a prison turned into a reality when my father agreed on taking me to his workplace for a short span. I was totally elated. During the journey Dad explained me that as a correctional officer he was responsible for the supervision, safety, and security of inmates in the prison. He talked about how vital it was to be gentle with an inmate, no matter how sinister they might be. About an hour later I found myself standing over the shiny lime tiles of the prison facility. An eerie smell lingered all over the place, although I found it to be exceptionally clean.
Dad asked me to wait for a while in the corridor as he had to attend an urgent call. I wandered around a bit, then out of curiosity headed downstairs to a secluded underground passage. As I moved forward I reckon there were many empty jail cells except for the last two. A bald man, maybe in his thirties with an evidently pointy nose supporting his spectacles, sat there nonchalantly reading a book. The last cell caged a humongous man who was voraciously devouring his meal like a hungry lion. Just when I thought about heading back, he called me. He asked me who I was. I never got the chance to answer him as he started raging loudly.
"Your father is a coward. Believe me when I get out of this place he is going to pay for all this. I'm will kill him!" He continued swearing as I started to back off. I was scared stiff. "Shut up! He is just a kid. He doesn’t know anything", the other inmate sternly remarked. He kept his book aside and looked towards me."Ohh he is a lunatic, got locked up for robbing a medical store. No clue what he was going to get from it. He's a first timer, they always overreact. Don't worry your father will be all right. He is a good man, works hard. We all are making up for our sins. We had this coming. We deserve it.",he resonantly said. Those words were surprisingly coming from a prisoner. Maybe he wasn't a really bad one, I thought. His voice clearly sounded very disciplined like a well versed professor. ”Do you want to know how I ended up here? This is my fourth time. Clearly not improving, am I? For the record, I was terrified enough and just wanted to head back up, but he continued speaking.” I sell drugs; I make a living of it. I might probably resume doing it as soon as I’m let loose. You see these substances….. It ruins people’s lives, tears down families. As wrong as I know it is I can’t come out. My feet are way too deep in it.” After a pause he resumed,” It’s just one wrong turn which branches into many similar ones and leaves you searching for an outlet but you just can’t fi-“.He stopped as we could evidently hear my father’s voice echoing above. He was calling for me. As I hastily climbed the stairways the big guy resumed yelling and passing threats.
Petrified, I came out of the abyss, sprung towards Dad and hugged him tight. At that particular moment, I could not comprehend anything what had just happened down there. I was just glad that at that moment I was in my father’s arms and we were all safe.
I remember him being very mad at me for going down there. For all I wished back then was that, the monster never got out of jail so he could never harm dad. I never actually comprehended exactly what the other guy advocated. But now, after all these years having passed by, I often sit down and ponder about that. Though the evil he was, his words were somewhat true. It’s just about getting a hang of something, might be anything; good or bad. It consumes our soul, nevertheless keeps us going.