Free! I was Free! Finally, a free man was what I was. Now I could live for myself and not for the state which assumed imprisonment was a less cruel act than death. Murder was what I was charged with. And now I was not. Took them five years to find innocence. All they need to make a man’s life stand still in a dark corner is just cruel intent. Which I feel we all have for someone or the other’s death. None of us is suitable or safe for the safe society we think we live in. But ones, at least those like me, would never build up the courage to work upon such intent. They have People to disappoint. Love to put in harm’s way. Striping the safety off people we were born to protect. I was innocent and am free now. Took the fat man 6 months to sign the release after the proof but he finally made it.
As I walked the lonely but lovely midnight streets. A beautiful face from five years back was what I longed to see. How much love I had for her paperwhite clay face with golden decor. Like a rich china cup gilded with treasures. And she loved me equally well. That’s what she told me. Sometimes it’s so unfathomable to imagine oneself as someone who is loved and liked by those around. But I never had a reason to doubt. For if she did fake to make a fellow feel good about himself, she would have been the most charitable person ever born. And I would be as much in love with her for that as I am for she loves me.
I miss her reading to me. Even After a long day of work, we each saved a pocket of energy for the other, And if for a misfortune we weren’t able to we never let the other realize. I lay my weary head on her soft lap as her one hand stroked my hair and on the other hand a book she read me from. As her soft open hair gently tickled my face. The aroma of the most delicate flower through her body filled the room. And then we used to reverse roles. Her soft golden hair, playful soft hair. I never figured which I loved more to read to her or to be read. On certain days it would get more playful as one could except between a husband and his wife. We slipped the gentle cotton off our weary day-worked bodies. Layers of oil with gentle hands to smoothen the soft but day-pained muscles. A mood selected book. And the read but now more huddled together. Closer to each other every day than yesterday.
They say society make the pairs and they are made to fall in love by them. but they didn’t for us at least that’s how it appeared to me. There lies the possibility I was blind and just wanted to believe we fell in love on our own free will. At the very beginning, they saw us as an odd couple, maybe she did too. Some kind of a circumstantial friendship. They imagine we would stop, to stop and look as soon as we stopped crossing paths, maybe she did too. I never asked her I was scared of the answer. Somehow imagining your wife is with you for ‘blind love’ feels much better than you being her ‘best choice’. And yes our paths did stop crossing and yes we stopped talking. Maybe we both waited for the other. “Just one more day and if he/she did not I would”, or maybe she didn’t. How am I to ever know for sure? But just believe. If you are curious she was the one to finally approach, that’s how I remember it.
We had two children. Elder a girl and younger a boy. Two sweet peas. They were 6 and 3 when I left to serve the state’s mistake. Now they must be 11 and 9. So grown they must be by now. With Lifelong distinct facial features on those little faces. And here I was walking the happy street on my way to see them again. Finally to fulfill the dream to be the father figure I never had. They too would have happy faces for me, wouldn’t they?
With these memories of my little children and wife, I walked the narrow lonely streets of my neighbourhood. It felt so different it felt larger, wider and more lively than it had ever done before. Had I not as a child and later as a man know it to be narrow and lonely I would have never known. It didn’t seem like much had changed but maybe just my eyes and my mind. Prison has made the world look so merry and beautiful through these new eyes. It was midnight but still was bright. Something I couldn’t imagine after the clock struck seven. And such sweet memories these lanes had for me. Even the ones I had remembered as ones I wanted to forget seemed rather happy and silly. It made me giggle to have been so small and immature to have worried about matters so massless.
I could finally see my house, my life, left aside, from a distance. It was bright it seemed warm. I was cold but am soon to be fixed. To Begin again from where I left for nothing had happened as I had done nothing just a time freeze. My innocence was proved and the state, they apologized. The apology was fairly complicated enough for it to take 6 extra months to get signed. And now I was walking to the life I deserve. To be with those I loved and who loved me, I think. As I came close I would hear their happy voices. Couldn’t get a clear sense of what they were saying must have been something happy. For me now everything I hear would seem happy and the sad ones silly. I could hear a faint voice of a man, a familiar voice but couldn’t point a finger. Was there someone else in my house. Maybe it was from the neighbours. Maybe it was a neighbour! Who would anyway be in a house with a lonely woman and her children this late in the night? Must have been the neighbours. Who were our neighbours? I can’t clearly recall the past feels so vague like a movie or a book I went through without much attention. Oh, I remember it were the Greens. Quite a lovely couple. Like we were. Hope we still are now. But it’s been more than five years do they still live there.
And in a moment it dawned upon me how less I knew about my own house. The house as a child I had always dreamed of buying. And finally did with years of hours with the same track on repeat. But the task, that was a luxury. That’s what I felt now, didn’t then. My family, they too must have changed. The children what do they like, what are they like? I knew nothing about them. Where was I to learn so much from? The house looked at me as if a stranger more than when I was a child and it was just a dream. When I am to get in, what am I to say? And when my children see me for the first time with a built chamber of memories how is my wife going to introduce me as. I would understand is if she on the first look doesn’t see me or speak of me as the father of her children. That could mess up a child mind. And for such delicate minds, some surprises end up being registered as shocks. I would Understand.
I stopped my steps as I looked at the bright reflective front porch. The light was brighter than I could ever imagine or remember. Had She changed the bulb? She must have. I planned on giving a shout but didn’t. Next moment I saw myself walking again on the said narrow streets. Maybe I hoped for a stroll and reach back when the porch wasn’t that bright anymore. That voice, that voice of that man was stuck in my heard. Cup Cup CUP! it was something about a cup. What could it have been? What might it have meant? Maybe a tea party. I remember she loved coffee. We used to drink over a conversation of the day. Could it have been coffee? It has been just five years could it have been coffee. Is it that long, five years? To give up on someone. She must have been seen as a killers wife, that mustn’t have been easy for someone as fragile as her. She must have needed a pillar, especially with the kids. If it hadn’t been the Cup man, who I can’t even confirm if was in the house either. There must have been someone. She did increase the interval between seeing me. There must have been a man. There must have been a father to fulfill the duties. I love him for he took a broken family and fixed it.
And my children, they might not have any distinct memory of me. Could be for the better. And what were they to remember? A father who left his children with hardly a fight for the broken system of justice. And in these years they have certainly been fed with odd thoughts about me. For what better have people to do. I am nothing they say I was. An innocent man. Would have been a good father a loving husband. I believe. But they never let me know.
Instead of circling I kept moving straight, I just had to. The lanes seemed narrow and lifeless to me again. It seemed to keep narrowing and maybe eventually crush the little bits of pieces of life left. I ran, Kept running. From nothing to nowhere. Wishing only my wife and children would see a little bit of me in the man. Does she still read? Read to him. Or did it just die with me? Did she love it, or was it just for she thought I did? In a moment an image kept crawling into my nothingness.
A beautiful woman half-covered in a white silk blanket. A half-soft grin from me a half satisfied smile from him. Soft sleek hair, as if a comeback athlete, covering the cotton white pillows. She was a glued vase. And with her in the sheets the man. A man she must have loved like I felt she loved me. I must have wished to tear the image. Burn the man who lives my life. But no, she seemed happy the kids seemed happy. I must have heard them smile and laugh like those days in faraway memory. I must walk, walk fast so as not to break the bridge, again.
To her: Do what you must. You can forget me now. Smiles must be complete, shouldn’t they?
To him: Be there, As me. Brother.
To my children: Fight. Don’t be me.
I walked towards farther lands in search of a new life. ALL they let you take after prison is memories of your previous life and never the lives. Maybe it’s better than death at least I can look back with a SMILE.