Archive for October, 2009



October 15, 2009

When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.

Sam paced around the cell restlessly. The verdict had been delivered a week ago and he had had ample time to come to terms with it. Denial for a while, anger for the longest. Bargaining was out of question and depression wasn’t worthwhile. So he came to accept it quietly after a couple of days. That his end would come one day he was always aware, now he had an expiry date to watch out for.

He was making a list of things he still wanted to do. 45 is too young an age to take away someone’s life at. But then, 10 is even younger, and far worse. But it was an accident…

He shook off the images from his head and put his mind back on the list. Say sorry. No, scratch that. Try and convey how sorry I am. Climb the Himalayas. Read Ulysses. The rest of the list was really meaningless after the first one. There was only so much he could do in that 4×4 cell of his. There was only one thing that was really meaningful. The rest were really there to fill up the numbers. All those lists you see – ” Run a marathon. Get a tattoo.”, not one of them really mean those things. It’s all there to make you look cool and like you’re really achieving something. All these guys in the prison, all of them have tattoos. What is so cool about it anyway? And most of them must have covered a fair distance while running away from the law, he smiled ruefully. He tore up the list and got down to the only thing that really mattered.

He wrote page after page, describing his growing up in a small town in Iowa. And how being orphaned early, he was brought up by his grandparents. He described the little things he could recall. Like the smell of his Grandma’s chicken pie wafting through while he played in the backyard. The games he played with his friends from the neighborhood. His little dog, Tex. And how devastated he was when he went missing one day, never to be found again. He wrote like there was no tomorrow. Well, there was to be no tomorrow for him in a couple of weeks. He wrote about growing up, his college life, being an adult, the girlfriends he had, meeting his wife, now the problems they were facing. He laid his life bare on paper, like he was talking to an old friend. It was cathartic, reliving his whole life. Figuring out what he was really proud of, what he could’ve done better.

And then he wrote how sorry he was that little Tim’s childhood was so tragically cut short. How he wished a thousand times over that he hadn’t driven out in a blind rage that night. And that he would do anything to rewrite the story that day. How he finally felt he was ready for his punishment, ready to go.

He then sent it off to be mailed and stared out of the cell, wondering what he would do next. He wrote some more – letters to old acquaintances, people he wished he hadn’t lost touch with. It’s a good time to let go of grudges when you’re staring down the barrel. And send out apologies your ego has held back for far too long. Once he started he couldn’t stop. For two days he wrote like his life depended on it – sadly, it didn’t. By the end he had made his peace finally. There was a strange calm, but an empty feeling. He had two weeks to go and nothing left to do. He had done all that he wanted to, he was ready to go. Finally ready. Maybe I should ask for a copy of Ulysses, he thought.

The guard came by and summoned him a few days later. The officer broke the news to him. There was a sad, confused look on his face.

“What am I going to do now? I …was ready to go.”