Freedom is a longing of the heart and who would like to be in prison. Being in prison is the biggest punishment that one can get. Being enclosed in a small cell can be stifling for the spirit. The spirit longs for open space and people to interact with and fulfill one’s dreams.
Five years ago, while I was still a novice at Prison Ministry in Mumbai, and on my first visit to the CR Section (where boys with Criminal Records are kept) at the Remand Home at Dongri, I met three young boys. I asked them how did they land there. One boy Mohsin Khan said that he was arrested for Half Murder. I was surprised to hear that term and asked him what it meant. He said that the victim did not die.
I told Mohsin that he was lucky and asked him why he did it. He said that he was promised Rs. 10,000. His friends escaped but he was caught. He cried like a child and said “Aunty, Save me. Tell my father I am here.” He had a step mother and he did not want to go home. Every visit I used to tell him stories and I said to him, “Mohsin, you are lucky. God has given you such a nice body and you should use it well.” He had done Std. VIII and did not want to study further. I told him that he was clever and he should take up a trade like Electrician or Motor Mechanic.
Soon Mohsin was shifted to Matunga David Sassoon Children’s Home and I missed him. I and my colleague went to visit him but were sorry to hear that he had escaped from there. I could not do anything for Mohsin but I prayed to God for his wellbeing.
Two years later, on my usual visit to the Dongri Remand Home, I saw a tall handsome boy, well dressed and with a mobile phone in his hand, standing in front of me. I could not believe what I saw. He said, “Aunty, I am Mohsin. You told me to become a Motor Mechanic and I have become one.”
I was so happy. We went to a nearby restaurant and had a long chat over tea. Mohsin was back with his family and was doing well. I had tears in my eyes and wished him well for his future and he said, “No more Half Murder Aunty.”
Prison Ministry (Mumbai)
(The writer is a volunteer of PMI Mumbai and belong to O.L. of Mount Carmel Parish, Bandra, Archdiocese of Bombay. She engages in rehab work of inmates of the Remand Home and has assisted in the rehabilitation of a number of physically disabled and mentally challenged children.)