Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Letter from Death Row (again)

We have been writing to each other for about two-and-a-half years now, and inevitably, have become close. He says I am is best friend (probablyy his only friend). We share views and books, and ideas about life and death, and I think we know each other (as much as you can know someone you've never met). I admire his intellect, his writing, his mind; a mind that is condemned, like the rest of him, to be of no further use to anyone, and to be denied the smallest chance of redemption. I have no idea whether or not he's guilty of the crime for which he was committed; he says he's never killed anyone. We can't disccuss his case as all our correspondence is read by the authorities.

As I've said before, he has no access to  a library any more (I send him books, which he reads and re-reads), and has nothing to do. Nothing. He exercises to keep fit (fit for what?), writes poems when he feels he can, and waits. And waits. He has been on hunger strike, but something went wrong. What? I've no idea. He plans to start another one. What do I say? Don't do it? Far better to wait to be put down like a sick dog, in two, five, ten, twenty years' time? Again, I don't know.

In his last letter, he describes what it was to be young (although his childhood was awful, and he tried to hang himself when he was just eleven):

"There were bonfires and skinny dipping in the ocean. It was sumer, and all the kisses tasted of lip gloss and suntan lotion, and all the girls were ours, and none of us were even old enough to buy cigarettes.....it was the best afternoon ever. Until the next best afternoon ever.

And how he feels now:

"31 and never  been in love. Never knew what that felt like. I'll never write my best poem or song. I've never painted my best picture....Alone enough to be alone but not enough to matter...No family. Just a pauper's grave in a potter's field. They don't even put our names on the grave markers. They put your prison number. My suffering is a number. My existence boils down to that.

When I read it (and it was a long letter), I cried.



13 comments:

  1. I don't usually comment on your heroic compassion for these unfortunate folk. Some may be deranged, some may be innocent and some may want separating from ordinary folk. The Death Row is barbaric we condemn all the middle eastern states for such attitudes towards the sanctity of human life. At least stoning or beheading is quicker than the USA can manage. Almost all... the Saudis seem to get away with whatever they want to do; here and at home. Queeny likes them because they like horses as well.
    A couple of years ago I banned Americans who supported the death penalty from commenting. I don't have many American followers. It's no loss.
    Keep up the good work as long as you have the strength, every little ripple begins as a wave. That ought to be the other way round. Not a good analogy.

    I had high hopes for Obama but he is almost as bad or powerless as his predecessors.

    Keep up the good work you are a heroine.

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    1. Not a heroine at all, Adrian, but I thought I should stop banging on about the death penalty and actually do something. It's not much, but a little drop in a big ocean.

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  2. I had tears in my eyes when I read the pieces, Frances. Thank you for sharing them. Very sad, truly shocking.

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    1. Thank you for commenting. I'm glad you agree.

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  3. It is an unbelievably cruel system. Your letters must give a small light in an otherwise dark existence.

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  4. I think it'squite possible to become friends with someone you've never met. The relationship might be a bit different from that with someone you can see, hug etc but then all relationships are different anyway.

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  5. I read this just after you'd published it and I really didn't know what to say then that I haven't already said on previous posts on the subject and I don't know now either. My views remain the same and I admire what you do.

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    2. Not really admirable, Graham. Just painful at times.

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  6. Your post has brought tears to my eyes, Frances - no matter what this man has or has not done, he surely deserves the right to be treated humanely.

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    1. Thank you, Rosemary. They are desperately in need of new writers....??

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