“Rule number one: no blasphemy. I'll not have the Lord's name taken in vain in my prison.
I believe in two things, discipline and the bible. Here you’ll receive both.
Put your trust in the lord; your ass belongs to me!
Welcome to Shawshank!”
I am not a hero. This is to the people who believe, I am. To those people who keep telling me I have great qualities. To those people, who think I am an inspiration. To those who care. To those who do not care! To those who believe I am no one; I have reserved the best seats for you.
I was born. My mother insisted for a normal delivery. I struggled my way out. I don’t remember how it felt to see the light for the first time. I don’t remember hearing the first voice. I don’t remember anyone calling me. I don’t remember anything. No one does. If we experience this state of ‘I don’t remember a thing’ in adulthood, either we are sleeping, in coma or dead. But when you are a newborn, rules do not apply.
“The first night's the toughest, no doubt about it. They march you in naked as the day you were born, skin burning and half blind from that delousing shit they throw on you, and when they put you in that cell... and those bars slam home... that's when you know it's for real. A whole life blown away in the blink of an eye. Nothing left but all the time in the world to think about it.”
There are a lot of things I don’t remember though. Like, I don’t remember telling my parents I am happy with the religion they provide. A newborn Mandarin duckling is bound to grow up as a Mandarin duck, not a Campbell, neither an Indian Runner Duck.
I don’t remember telling my parents that I like memorizing historical facts and solving math. I don’t remember telling them that I am willing to volunteer 14-18 years of my childhood to schooling. But they are my parents and they know what is best for me. Everyone sends their children to schools. If they let us decide, we would never have learned anything at all.
That, my dear reader, would have been a terrific childhood. It is true that where I work, they don’t ask me to solve Calculus or find the Bramaputra River on a map. But all those years of schooling and not fooling around led me to this job. A job that consumes 11-12 hours of my daily life, 5 days a week, 22 days a month, 264 days a year. That’s 3168 hours every year. And 110880 hours in a lifetime, roughly estimated. I am no hero. I am institutionalized.
“These walls are funny. First you hate 'em, then you get used to 'em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them. That's institutionalized. Goddamn right. They send you here for life, and that's exactly what they take. The part that counts, anyway.”
The first 16-18 years devoted for a job. Then the rest of the years are devoted to maintain the job.
“This is a dog-eat-dog-world” our parents taught us. If you don’t get the job, someone else will.
“Life moves on, dear” our lovers told us, before they kissed us goodbye. If you can’t stay with me, someone else will.
“This is how it works in professional life” – the managers told us. If you leave, we will hire someone else.
I am not irreplaceable. Someone else will. Who is this ‘someone’ who is always getting everything? Certainly, it is not me. I am anyone, everyone, no one, but definitely not someone. All the magnanimous halfwits reach a stage at some point of their lives where death is not an option and life is not a choice. Your old life blown away in the blink of an eye and you are in the brink of madness, desperate to act normal. That’s when you know it’s real.
Dear readers, I can't believe how fast things change outside. They planted rainforest trees along this walkway in around 1993 but now they are gone. The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry. Eighteen years of education got me into this office. My head and hands hurt most of the time. During the lunch, I go out to see the trees, I keep thinking someday they might just pop up and say hello, but they never do. I have trouble remembering things and this keeps getting bigger. Sometimes it takes me a while to figure out where I am, what time of the day it is and who are the people I talk to everyday. I feel like getting a gun and shooting someone. I want to be that ‘someone’ for once. That is sort of like a bonus. But I think I’m too old for that sort of nonsense. I don’t belong here. I’m tired of doing the wrong things all the time. I’m tired of changes. I have decided.
Dear Warden, You were right. Salvation lay within.
“And that's how it came to pass that on the second-to-last day of the job, the convict crew that tarred the plate factory roof in the spring of forty-nine wound up sitting in a row at ten o'clock in the morning drinking icy cold, Bohemia-style beer, courtesy of the hardest screw that ever walked a turn at Shawshank State Prison.
We sat and drank with the sun on our shoulders and felt like free men. Hell, we could have been tarring the roof of one of our own houses. We were the lords of all creation. As for Andy - he spent that break hunkered in the shade, a strange little smile on his face, watching us drink his beer.”