Lest I forget
“We forget too soon the things that we thought that we would never forget.”(Joan Didion)
Social media, namely Facebook and Instagram, brings the world to me. Logging on opens up a window to the world both internationally and locally. Glamour, glitter, raucous laughter, smiley faces and sparsely dressed ladies with glowing skin. And then there are the men, some of them my peers, showcasing tables covered by white silk sheets, littered with champagne and vodka bottles. Pictures of gleaming new cars, jewellery and expensive clothes are posted online – a life that rivals that of a super star. They toast to the camera; they toast to me, a former inmate, KM5711 … I imagine it must be nice.
It’s been eight years since my release from Her Majesty’s prison Pentonville. I remember getting sceptical looks from prison officers when I left … the kind of look that says ‘you will be back’. I can understand their scepticism, as the revolving doors keep returning the same inmates time and time again. Inmates gripped by the unrelenting hold of addiction.
I am not an addict … well… maybe I am. The lifestyle beckons, it entices me with the promise of milk and honey. It offers escape from the monotonous cycle of a 9-5 job, with long hours and a small pay check; eeking out a living just to survive. The offers came in as my peers, sitting on their high horses, offer a ‘hand’.
“I have a proposition for you,” he said in a conspiratorial manner, although he had to shout in my ear above the loud music. Girls flanked us on both sides. The proposition was intriguing; it promised a good start, a way to get back on my feet. Others in the group looked on as I nodded my head assessing what he told me. A small wad of cash was placed in my hand; I could smell the newness of crisp notes. I looked at it, shook my head and attempted lamely to give it back. He returned a stare of an incredulous nature; I slipped the wad in my pocket. It felt right at home. A server came over and poured more drinks in my flute; that signalled the end of our discussion. I felt good; one of the girls scooted over sidling snugly against me, she sensed my importance, I liked it. I whispered in her ear with an old confidence. I was on my way back.
Days passed, I would stare at the wad of cash as I dressed to go to work; and then stare at it when I got home. My mind started to remember. I remembered being locked in a cell, behind a door with no handle; only opened at the discretion of others. I remembered long quiet nights laying on my back looking up in the ceilings, hearing sporadic shrieks of agony and pain echoing down the quiet hallways. I remembered the pain of separation from loved ones. I remembered a place where money does not matter. I returned the cash – this time with more confidence.
I love that I remembered, it keeps me grounded, gives me a new perspective and renewed vigour, my job is not so bad after all. My life is sweet; my life is a blessing because I am free. I will continue to be so … lest I forget.