A PRISONER’S LIFE STORY
At ‘Parappana Agrahara’, Central Prison in Bangalore, there are about 4,500 prisoners, belonging to almost all the States in India, and the Union Territories too. There are foreigners men and women, caught in various types of crimes proved or not. Yes, affluent, socially who are well off, find release or bail faster than ordinary or who are at the lower strata in the social ladder.
At Parappana Agrahara in the Women’s Section, where there are 120 to 150 women, (number varies now and then) on Fridays they have common prayer. Those who wish, come and take part in the ‘Praise and Worship.’ At the end of the prayer, as usual, we PMI members present, lay our hands on them and pray. Right behind, the last raw, I noticed a young woman, ‘like the woman with two coins,’ whom Jesus admired, (Mk.12:42) I noticed, a young woman, head fully covered, not daring to lift her head high. For she was a stranger, did not know the common language to converse with others. I coming from a teaching background, as usual, my attention went to the back bencher who was not lifting her head, resigned to her destiny. My attention went to her; I took her away from the rest, and got into conversation. She could converse in Hindi, and I was happy to get into her world. She is Makku Maya Lama, from Nepal. How come, such a young woman of 33years, with a good husband and three school going children, leaving behind in Nepal, this Makku here languishing in the Indian Prison! Strange I felt. Her face did not look for me like a person, capable of any crime. Talking to her many a time, on my visits, I was convinced; Makku Maya Lama was deceived by the agents in Nepal itself. Her country, the area she lived had undergone some natural calamities, the earthquake made them vacate the place, and they lost everything.
Makku had had enough zest for living, whatever problems may be she had to face, she wanted to rebuild and reconstruct her family once again. Though her Mother- in -law was adamant that she doesn’t leave the family and go out, she advised her not to send the children to school anyway they will be getting married sooner or later, the boy , about 15 years would be useful for domestic work……Her two daughters were in the High School then. The Travel Agent interfered and promised ‘green pastures’ in Dubai. She was also told to tell several lies ‘her husband was working in Dubai and she was going there to join him.’ In reality, her husband was in Nepal, looking after their three school going children. Due to the massive earthquake, and other natural calamities, many families had become homeless. They were living in the tents, so, Makku’s husband contacted an agent and decided to send her to one of the Gulf countries. So Makku was brought to Delhi and then to Bangalore. In the airport she was caught, for the false entries in her passport and send to ‘Parappana Agrahara,’ Central Jail. She was imprisoned on 19.06. 2015. It was a big shock for Makku, instead of earning money for the education and sustenance of her children here she was counting days in the prison. She was sentenced to seven years. Her agent from Nepal found her a Lawyer. I do remember a student arguing in a debate: “Lawyer’s profession is a liar’s profession…. Parents have spent money for my education, it is my duty to redeem.” At the end, the group was convinced, Lawyers have to be sincere and honest like Gandhiji and other citizens……Makku’s husband had borrowed Rs.80,000 and given to the respective Lawyer, and the Lawyer was not satisfied, he was demanding more. My friends were a great help to contact this lawyer and get the NOC and the case papers to my address by courier. We approached a second lawyer, who advised us to contact a High Court Lawyer. We were not familiar with good High Court Lawyers. Through one priest, I came to know a good Catholic High Court Lawyer, who started working with Makku’s case seriously. Once he rang up to me and said, “Sister, I want her children’s photos, could you get them immediately?” I said “Alright” Lawyer’s time to speak to him or he to speak to me was after 6.30 pm. our prayer time starts at 6.00 pm “For a good cause, God will excuse me I thought to myself…”On that night itself I tried to contact Makku’s husband several times, tried to ring up her close relatives, everything was in vain, next day I contacted some Nepalese girls from the Hostel, and some Nepali Securities around, and gave them the three phone numbers of her husband and relatives, but it was next to impossible to contact Mr. Bahadur her husband or anyone else. That afternoon, as usual, when I went to the Chapel, a flash, a sudden thought came to my mind; couldn’t I get some more phone numbers from Makku if she has more? I immediately rushed to the prison to ask her for phone numbers if she had. She had told me, since there are many hills over there, they don’t get the range, no connection with other people sometimes for days together. In the afternoon, when I rushed to the prison, a big miracle was waiting for me. To my utter dismay, she said she had her children’s as well as her husband’s photos. She had with her, her voter ID too. She did not bring them, but her daughter had put them in her bag! I was happy to grab them, go to the studio get the photos done and give to the Lawyer and to Makku, instead of one set I gave her two sets of photos of her family. (I too have one set of photos with me!)
Makku Maya Lama was imprisoned on 19/06/2015. She did not waste her time in the prison. Neither took part in the usual gossip. She was attending Kannada classes and she stood first in the class. She was awarded a “chembu” container to fetch butter milk. I asked her, when she was with us, “Maya, where is your gift, I don’t see it with you!” “No Sister, I did not bring here, I gave that one, on the same day, to another lady, Gauramma, who did not have a vessel to get buttermilk.” Oh! Good, I said. Makku was a keen observer. The Lady police often said, “Yaava Kelasa aadharu agabahudu, ee jailina kelasa bedave bedappa!) “ any work is alright, but working in the prison don’t want at all.” Within eight months, Makku could speak Kannada fluently! She attended prayers regularly and spend time in reading books Sisters gave her. “Makku, you speak Hindi so well, where as your husband is not so fluent, I have to repeat the sentence three times, your children also don’t understand Hindi.” I said. “After coming to the Prison, here, there are so many speaking Hindi, talking to them I have learned Hindi.” She said.
High Court Lawyer was good and gave us 90% concession, then he told us, to contact a lawyer at Devanahalli where Makku was arrested. God provided us a good Lawyer, but he did not give us concession, but took a little more. We will have to see his face in the future for the release of other prisoners, so we obliged. On the day, Makku had to be released we were on time at Devanahalli. They told us it would be in the morning. But they brought her at 3.00pm. She was taken to stand before the Judge, a Lady Judge who looked very simple, who turned the pages of her file, for a while and declared, “Makku Maya Lama is released today.” I was called to translate her words in Hindi and tell Makku that she was released. Along with my translation, tears of joy also dropped down, which I did not want to show to anyone. Yes, many times, we had to meet the Lawyers. This labour of love, did not make a person tired. From Devana halli they brought her to Parappana Agrahara to the Prison, where she had to complete all the formalities, and when she was released it was 9.00pm of 3.03.2016. Waiting outside the prison was another unique unforgettable experience. Mosquitoes in plenty, your two hands are not enough, and then you see only men in uniform, moving silently on duty. You also see stray dogs, don’t know, what messengers they are. When I saw, Makku coming out through the wicket gate, with a small bag in the hand, I felt so elated, a blood relation, a part of me is set free. We hired a rickshaw, and reached the Convent. We had our supper in the Convent. She was not fussy about the food, we walked to the Chapel, thanked God for all the wonders that God had done in our lives. A room was prepared for her in the Hostel, I told her our time table, we rise at 5.00 am, start our prayer at 5.30 am we have Mass at 6.30 and so on. I told her to sleep as much as she wanted. At 7.30am I would be knocking at her door, to take her for breakfast. To my surprise Makku was in the Chapel at 5.40 am. She had two or three books with her, busy reading and praying. She attended all our prayers. Sometimes she was before us in the Chapel especially in the afternoon and in the evening. Nearly two weeks she was our honoured guest. I took her out, on my visits. Even our SVP member, Michel invited Makku and me for a dinner and gifted her so many things. Our Community was generous. Our two PMI members Mrs Lorraine and Mrs Annie were very supportive. Mrs Lorraine, though her sick parents needed lot of attention, she had to rush to Mumbai now and then, she was here with her vehicle to reach Makku to the airport. We wanted Makku to reach her country, without any problem, so, I brought the “Detention Certificate” from the prison with all the details, that she is acquitted from the prison. We weighed her luggage, which was a few kilos more, did not feel like subtracting! Another miracle was waiting for us at the Airport, two families we found travelling to Nepal, who were too happy to take care of Makku. We waved each other till she disappeared. There was silence and tears. Though I wished her to remain in India very much, but my inner voice told me, how much her family must be waiting for her! Makku belongs to her family and not me. Her family has accepted Faith and she is growing in that New Found Faith. God be praised!
Sr. M. Shalini SRA
Asha Kiran Convent
Hebbagodi, Elecronic City
This article is for the PMI competition 2018