GUEST OF THE STATE (REMINISCENCE)

Dear Jen,

I am writing to you from the comfort of my suite here at the Remand Prison where I have been a guest of the state for the last few weeks. Maybe the main purpose of me writing to you is to tell you what I am learning every other guy behind bars tells their partner. “I did not do it.”

But I won`t do that. I don`t have much time and I won`t waste the few precious minutes I have telling you something you know already. Long story short, I didn`t commit that robbery. I am not that stupid. I might not have minutes to waste convincing you that, but I have seconds. Anyway, life happens. I have no authority to undo what has already been done.

 I share my suite with six others and at the moment, we are all home. There is a large cockroach marching up and down the peeled wall like it is the king of this neck of the wood, and we are but its humble subjects.

One of my cell mates here, Odinke, chuckles and tells me not to waste my time writing and living in the past. He swats a mosquito from his ears, rubs his eyes, yawns loudly and laughs. I notice several gaps in his mouth where teeth were supposed to be. They made him swallow a few molars when they were arresting him.

It is nights like this that I regret turning myself in. Cold nights when I have to cover myself with a thin sheet of material I call a blanket. Nights when bloodthirsty bedbugs terrorize your sleep. I only thought I would step into a police station, tell them that I had been forced into the robbery and that at gunpoint, they had made me pose for those pictures of me with a gun and the stolen money and posted them online. But they arrested me and now here I am.

Good news is I am coming home soon. Odinke doesn`t know that, or he wouldn`t be laughing at me so hard. Calling me “Facebook Gangster.”

It is a few minutes past midnight. I can`t sleep. And I never will, you know that. I’m always making plans. I think of you; our future. Our daughter Maya. How I wanted to come around during her birth. I wanted to be but your parents showed up. They weren`t happy with me. But then, when were they ever, right? There is light shining through the bars in the door. Faint light, but light nonetheless. It helps me write. Another cell mate turns and mumbles something in their sleep. Right before releasing gas. Someone else chews an imaginary meal in his sleep and says, “Mama.” 

Hey remember back then. It was our first year dating and your parents got wind of what we were up to. Their reaction wasn`t encouraging and long story short, we decided to live together in that tiny place I called home.It was so silent and the room was so hot.

I remember the walks we had back then during those hot Campus afternoons. Those days when we would skip boring Development Studies classes. Where the lecturer would come to  class and start intimidating us; threatening that he was preparing a tough CAT about the SDG’s and MDG’s. And that anyone who hadn’t studied should not attempt to step into the exam room. I remember going out for pizza on Tuesdays where they had those buy one get one free offers. When you would  shower me with stories about your family, home and church.

That`s what`s on my mind right now. How from nothing, we have built a sweet little family which I now find myself away from. But the police caught the real criminals and they testified so I should be home shortly. And when I get there I promise I`ll never leave. Sometimes it takes losing everything to know exactly what you would live and die for.

Soon it`ll be morning. A cock will crow, a dog will bark, birds will chirp and the prison will awake. Odinke will yawn and smack his lips, “So it is daylight again?”. Boots will shuffle on the floor, keys will jingle and the metal door will be unlocked. I will be free.

I will run all the way to you, I will climb those stairs two at a time, I will walk through our doors slowly with my biggest grin and I will hold our daughter for the first time.

How do I say the words “I’m sorry” when I know words are not enough? One of the hardest things in  life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter. That’s how I feel. With a bruised heart,  sad soul and a head hung low. I apologize to you unconditionally. I hope you`ve forgiven me. Your parents always told you I would never amount to anything. I hope you don`t take this as proof that they were right about me. They weren`t.

Odinke is up. He is asking what I`m still doing up torturing myself about the past. I tell him I`m just excited about my future. He smiles and says I`m weird.

I have to go now before the entire cell is up. But until you open your eyes and see me smiling at you, I remain your fool in love.

Yours forever.

                                                                                                              -@EliazarBabu. 

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