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It was 3.00 am, and my uncle, now forty years old, was seating at a table in his study room with a pen, writing something in a book. I am bewildered by the sight of what I saw after a tireless night without sleep. I had just left my bed and walked downstairs to the living room to watch a movie. The far away look of the usual jovial man seemed to have deserted him. I slowly walked to where he was and found out that he had just finished writing a story about his life time experience when he was barely seventeen years old. I asked him, “Why didn’t you wait another day or the day break to do the writing?” He solemnly replied, “My son, I don’t have days”. Well, I was dumb founded at this point, and he was quick to ask me why I was still awake during that time of the night. I simply said that I could not sleep. I immediately reached out for his writing in the book, and he helplessly did not resist. I looked at him once again in a manner, like asking for permission to go through the writing. He nodded in a way suggesting to go ahead and to read.
My teenage life was the most momentous times I have ever had in my life so far. Twenty three years ago, I was locked up in a local penitentiary for crimes I did not commit. It was one of the testing moments in my life. Things took a completely different turn when I was in the early years of my teenage life. This was a criminal justice unit for juveniles. But I think I needed a lesser unit, because my mate in the cell was much older and experienced than me. There was a lot of tension for me. At night, any sound around the prison was ominous and frightening.
I was accused of murder, and I was to serve a life sentence for the crimes. I was purported to have been an accomplice among other culprits. To me, this was a one way street; whoever went in that prison never came out. On this occasion, I was by all means sure that I was going to die, and I waited patiently in prison for my last breath.
The anticipation of death is worse than the death itself. The thought of seeing another bright day was unheard off, and it was very difficult for me to accept the situation that befell me. Nevertheless, it was not a good position to be in, and there was no alternative other than to give in. I was locked up in the same cell with Whistler, whom I met there for the first time. It was a frightening experience, and the stories that surrounded him were not welcoming. “You probably have heard some stories about me. Not all of them are true,” Whistler said this to me on the very first day we met. Some said he was gay and he was known to be a murderer from other sources. I was indeed at his mercy for whatever thing that could have happened to me in that cell.
Every time that we went out for the meals, it was an adventure piling on the agony of being in prison for false accusations. Whistler demanded that I gave him my dessert for every meal. I was henceforth helpless, and every torture and mistreatment seemed to wear me out. I could not resist, and the challenge was big for me. I was almost clearing high school and was very good at my studies. From my childhood, I developed a great interest in buildings and structures; and at this age, I had a good mastery of building, architecture, and other accessories. This was an important knowledge for me at this particular situation. It helped me escape the wrath of my cell mate, Whistler. Again, it gave me the hope of seeing another day out of prison. Thus, with my knowledge, I inclined to a prison break. Whistler had already given up and had turned out to be a miserable piece of the cowhide. He had completely gone native to life in prison and did not have any plans or thoughts whatsoever to leave prison.
My expertise and interest in structures and building gave Whistler some hope of an escape plan into the nearest wood. It all began from our prison cell where plans of breaking out of the prison cell came up. During break and lunch times, many prisoners cautioned me about being in proximity with Whistler. In fact, many said that nobody got the audience with Whistler, not unless he was planning malice on them. It was a tricky situation for me, but either way, it did not make a difference. The only thing to fear at this point was fear itself. All the same, I was going to die whether at that time or in the future to come. The timing to me did not make a difference. I needed to do something, and that thing was to try and see if I could get out of prison. For a while, Whistler’s temperament cooled down, and he could not harm me because his luck was resting on a seventeen year old and that was me. He exuded calm and confidence having seen some light in the tunnel, he resorted to follow it.
Well, there was a great turn of events at the prison and the entire criminal justice system. While staying at prison, there were reforms that were carried out across the country pertaining judiciary and justice got a new meaning. My case was among those that were scrutinized in ensuring justice for all in the reformed process. Luckily, the decision that was made against me was reverted, and news from the prison warden brought life to me for yet another chance to live. It is unimaginable how my ambitions in the cell worked to stay away from Whistler’s malice. I waited with bated breath for the time of my release. By that time, I was already in a separate location with some other prisoners whose case was just like mine. We were given free transport to our preferred destination, and that is how I narrowly escaped a life time sentence from prison...
“You have never shared this one with any one!!!!” I said after reading the writing. My uncle calmly said, “I have. Only that it never came up in our discussions. You can go and rest now.” I looked at my watch. It was 4.00 AM in the morning.