THE TIHAR DIARIES (PART 1)
By Neel Anil Panicker
It was 2.50 pm., Monday afternoon, in Tihar Jail, and the inmates were returning from the workshops.
The grueling five and half hour morning shift had just got over and the inmates, some 250 of them segmented into ten groups of around 25 each were now being herded back to their cells where they would remain for the next hour until the prison walls reverberated with the sound of the bugle, the signal for the commencement of the next shift, mercifully half an hour shorter.
Uniformed guards marched them down long, dark corridors that further opened into windowless dark square blocks that housed the prisoner cells; each cell comprised at least five times its official capacity of four inmates, especially now which was the peak of the year end festival season and also when winters was its prime.
In no time, the prisoners, men of varying ages in matching pale blue attire stumbled back to their barracks, their heads bent and shoulders stooped, their pale work weary eyes downcast with a pervading sense of gloom and despair much like the way tiny little black ants get swallowed into teenie weenie holes.
A visible bored betel chomping prison guard, a machine gun slung loosely strung around his arm, escorted Pramod, the last of the inmates back to his egg shaped cell at the far right corner, and then trooped back to his watch post at the other end of the long tunnel, the sound of his boot steps piercing through the eerie stillness that hung like a huge albatross on the high ceiling walls of ‘C’ Wing.
As his fellow prisoners lost themselves to sleep and dozed off, their emaciated frames wrapped around in foeotal positions, Pramod stared absentmindedly at the blank stony walls, his scarred and impatient mind having already high jumped the heavily fortified walls of what was Asias’s largest penitentiary.
©neelanilpanicker2017 #THE TIHARDIARIES-#1 #306 words
Written in response to