He came out from behind the bars yesterday. In a blue-black suit, smiling, with inquisitive eyes looking for his mother who had supported him throughout his 20 years plus imprisonment. Reporters, friends and supporters from overseas were at the Richelieu prison’s gate early morning to greet him. His old mom, in her seventies, embraced him, like never before, her hands trembling, tears rolling off her eyes. « Don’t cry mom, don’t cry », he uttered in a low voice patting her shoulder gently.. « I’ll be with you now mom…for ever…am liberated at last ».
Yes, Sam is free. He’s settled his debt to society. He was sentenced to death penalty for the murder of somebody who happened to be his love rival in 1985. He lingered in the corridors of the gallows with the only hope that his sentence would be reviewed. He had appealed. Night and day he’d pray. Each morning brought new light, new hopes; each day was a new day, a day of rebirth. And he counted the days for nearly five years. The Lord had certainly listened to his prayers ; He didn’t let him go empty-handed. Man is nothing, Sam had placed all his hopes in the hands of the Almighty. His penalty was commuted to 20 years’ imprisonment without remission.
From then began another struggle, a struggle for remission. Depending on the gravity of their offence, prisoners who behave well are usually granted remission. Sam is the kind of guy who never loses hope. He is strong and mature. He knows how to go about. He didn’t lose hope. Convinced that he had a point, he fought for a remission. But this was never granted.
In prison he became reconciled to his plight. What would he do during the 20 years? He wouldn’t just sit down and mourn. That won’ t drive him anywhere. He decided to organise himself. He dedicated considerable amount of his time reading and praying, to strenghthen his morale and spirituality. He took courses by distance learning. The authorities facilitated his endeavour. Not every prisoner is like him. He was one of another breed. Journalism and writing was the field he chose to study. In 2003 he wrote his first novel « Condamné Amour » wherein he relates the circumstances of his conviction and imprisonment. He wrote another book « Enfances Brisées » two years later. He’s also been a resource person in the prison’s educational sessions.
Sam is a practical man. He knows society would look down on him when he’d be out. He didn’t wait for his liberation to act. Already from the four walls of his cell he had carefully planned his life ; what he’d do when he’d be free. With a diploma in journalism which he obtained from his prison compound, with the experience he gathered from the publication of his books, he knew the way was open for him. The local media have approached him already. He’d need some time before setting himself to work.
Conditions in the prison compound are harsh. Sam’s well aware.He’s determined to bring his contribution to improve the lot of his fellow prisoners. He’d been by their side, many of them. He’s seen them in all their forms. He’s aware of their plight. He wants to do something for them. He wants to show that there’s hope. All’s not lost. They can recover. Like him. Faith in the Lord is all that they need. That’s his conviction.
Mauritian residing in Rodrigues, Amanoola Khayrattee (pen name Alfa King) is contributing writer and journalist to La Gazette Mag de l’océan indien and This Week News Mauritius.
Retired, former meteorological cadre, trade unionist and OSH consultant, Amanoola has written for in-house union and other journals, publications and magazines. He runs two blogs since 2007: “Alfa King Memories”, and “Le Journal d’Alfa King”. When he is not reading or writing, he is on a 10+ km daily hike in anticipation of his monthly trails.
Amanoola may be reached at [email protected].