My almost trip to Central Jail. Yes… you read it right.
This incident happened in school. One day, in class, when we were getting bored with Social Studies, there came an announcement, “On the occasion of Gandhi Jayanthi, we would be taken to the Central Jail for a visit”. All the students were asked to get a permission letter from the parents, that we could go to Central Jail. The entire class was buzzing with excitement. It wasn’t a garden or a temple or even fun world, we would be going to a place, where they keep the criminals, where they are punished for a lot of unforgivable crimes. This was something totally unusual. Some of the girls, declared, they wouldn’t be coming.
“Who goes to Jail to see criminals. I don’t want to see”, said some.
“My parents will not allow me to go”, said some others.
Some said to me “your parents let you participate in everything, so you will definitely go”
This made me more enthusiastic. Wow!!! I would be visiting a jail. I had never ever seen a real jail. And all I could imagine was from what we are shown in movies. I was very curious. I was eager to go home and ask my parents for permission. I wanted to rush home. As soon as the bell rang that day, I rushed to the cycle stand. That day, I couldn’t wait for my friends. I told them, I had to leave soon, and rushed out of school on my bicycle.
At home, as soon as mom opened the door, I told her “Ma, they are taking us to Central Jail for Gandhi Jayanthi. Can you please sign the permission letter so that I can go”. At this point, I had not taken off my shoes, not changed out of my uniform. I had not even taken the bag off my back. I was just a step inside the house.
My mom, usually the cool one, who lets me participate in extracurricular activities, stared at me and said “To Central Jail?”
“What’s wrong with your school?
Who takes children to Central Jail? Are you criminals? They don’t have any brain. I am not letting you go.”
This was my cue to just keep quiet and go to my room and come back to eat my snacks, I was hungry. Instead I blurted out “Please mummy, all my friends are going. I want to go too”. It was like I had set off a ticking bomb.
I don’t remember what all I had to listen. But I do remember that it was long lecture. And I remember it was long, since I was standing in the same position for a long time, my back had started hurting. I started to feel hungry. And my imaginations were running wild, that I would feel dizzy and fall down, then mom would cool down and later allow me to go and visit. None of those happened. All I could feel was how uncomfortable I was, and I was too scared to even move an inch.
In the end, I heard mom say, go and change, start your homework. “Oh Thank God!!!” I thought. I rushed to my room to change, but I was still not sure why mom dint let me go. I couldn’t dare to ask her why she dint want me to go. And that evening was like walking on eggshells around her. I dint want to make her angry with anything. I think I dint watch TV that day ( I anyway didn’t have the mood to). I did my homework, even sat down to study. At dinner, too I quickly finished and went to my room to continue my studies. I slept without talking much to anybody.
The next morning, mom said “It’s for your good that I am not giving you permission. You will understand someday.”. I dint want to argue, I nodded my head and left for school. I was envious of everybody who got the permission letter. I was very angry at mom “Why did she have to kill my desires” is all I could think of at that point.
Days passed, it was Gandhi Jayanthi. After our usual celebrations in school, all the students with permission letter, were to get into the bus, which was going to Central Jail. I sadly, left on my cycle. When I came home, mom asked me if the students left for Central Jail. I replied to her and went to my room.
Mom came there and said, you know in earlier days, before independence, these jails were the place where freedom fighters and even if we went there, we would be meeting good people. But now, it was filled with bad people and it was not a place for kids. Well, on that day, I just agreed, also because I knew, there was no point in discussing it anymore.
I don’t remember much of what my friends had told me the next day. But till date, I don’t know why mom had not allowed me to visit the Central Jail. So I was almost going to visit Central Jail. I did not. Now I don’t want to, but may be next time, I will ask mom, why she dint want to me go. It was not that the school officials were fools to take the kids and go… Some day I will get an answer to this…