A CASE OF A MISPLACED FUTURE
Stefanie belonged to a decent and hard working family. Her parents are all professionals and the foundation of their lineage reflected their middle class orientation. This, in a society where middle class is almost nowhere, and where those living under the poverty line prevail. She was clearly the apple of her parent’s eyes, the torch bearer of her ancestors, one who would carry on the breed towards a more professional future. She played the part so well. She was also the frontrunner, so to speak, of her school where she shone as one of its brilliant instructors. Her family is assured with her holding the mast and from thereon, the prosperity of the family literally within reach.
She mentored a lot of girls in her classroom, taught them the rudiments of morality and ethics, the value of education and discipline. She was the dutiful elder sister, the youthful mother, the icon of learning, the guiding light of pedagogy. But later she would falter and she would begin to descend down to the lowest rung of integrity. Is it because of love, one which every teacher romanticize during a lull in her class. Is it because she wanted to leap to a greater pedestal that she forgot the rules.
Let us start from below where we found her struggling to regain her life anew. At a glance, Stefanie is a sight to behold. Full of confidence. Poised. Self assured and confident. The place is not the academe though, neither it is the public plaza nor corporate boardroom. She is on her own, together with several persons all forlorn. It is no place for hope, it is no place for optimism and it is never a zone for any dreams at all. This is prison and this is where Stefanie, the wife, the mother, the career woman, the doting child toils in her days on ends until the legal system is satisfied. This will be her place for a number of years, not in school, not at home, not in her parent’s bedside, but in a spot where she tussles with conformity and routine. She was unfortunately pushed in an activity where her luck vanished in an instance.
In prison, she must have to adjust and live virtually among the so called Daiaides, those 49 daughters of Danaus in Greek mythology who murdered their husbands and were condemned to an eternity of carrying water in leaky jugs. The perilous background of her new environment dictates the emotions of its denizens and everywhere in all the four corners of the correctional facility one can find a decent place to contemplate. Yet she must find a place somewhere within her heart, if not in her mind. The teacher in her however would manifest in every activity. She would find herself leading the choral ensemble, acting as moderator and ceremonial speaker. She would occasionally render a song, she has a good voice in the first place, like that of Celine Dion, or if we are to patronize the Filipina, Charice. She must serve her time in a manner where her sanity could sustain an otherwise irrational environment.
Just a few years ago, she was enjoying the company of students, well adjusted to a life of perpetual learning, like all teachers are. Her love life became an intervention but that is what romance is all about. It promotes inspiration and condones sacrifices. She moved and adjusted to a life of coaching towards the period of competition. She bore a child, a bright son, but as she encountered one case after another and has been incarcerated for a number of years, the son has grown to a handsome young man, devoid of motherly caress and deprived of a domestic bliss a woman could only provide a child.
A few summers ago, as she was succeeding in finding prison as her temporary abode, still wishing that someday luck would favor her, another case, long in the archive of the court, would be unfolded. That case, similar to the cases brought before her would add on to her new penalty schedule. She would be slapped with additional penalty on top of her previous ones. She knew that there were more to come. As it were, per court documents, she must have to serve time for 8, yes, eight life terms. She could no longer stretch her imagination how she could live that long. She intends to raise the white flag already. She has been stressed fighting for justice for years already. She has resigned to her fate to live the remaining years contemplating on life in the company of her fellow prisoners. On the whole, she must have to serve 40 years in the prison community, straight, or believe in miracles, that she would be able to rejoin her family in just a few years. She has been in prison for almost a decade and she dreams that one day, she would see freedom while still able.
Every time a fellow inmate is called to receive the release paper, her heart aches. She longed for that day when she too would be the recipient of the same document. It would be the most significant paper she would receive in her life. That would mean rejoining her family, broken as it were from years of neglect. That would mean having to embrace her child and stay close with her parents, both weakened by years of praying for her.
Meanwhile, she must reinvent herself in the midst of her environment. She must transform her surroundings according to her taste, or face the prospect of being converted to the prevailing sad atmosphere of the prison community. She must encounter what Leonardo da Vinci realized before he unfolded a series of brilliant masterpieces, that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. What better place in the planet where one can find simplicity of life than in the prison community.
She must endure her fate and ensure her faith. That is the only way to live freely.
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