Saturday, 25 October 2014


Today walking home, as I passed the town square, I was witness to a trial. To be precise, I did not see a trial as the outcome of one. A man was being sentenced to Ipthakir. The man appeared unperturbed and someone near me whispered that the accused had narrowly avoided a death sentence. The court adjourned, the criminal was taken to a holding cell for the night and the crowd dispersed. I dragged one step in front of another on my way home.

I felt sick. I was sweating profusely and I felt like throwing up. A deep seated uneasiness had taken root in me.

I hurried home and once there as if in a dream I saw my very first memory flash before my eyes. Jerome shaking me by the shoulder and calling to me as if from far away- me waking up sputtering and coughing on sun warmed sand with the taste of salt in my mouth- Jerome asking me my name and my incredulity that even though I understood what he is saying to me I could not for the life of me remember who I was or what I was doing there- and his pronouncement.

 ‘You must have escaped from Ipthakir.’

I finally remember that I am a product of Ipthakir as well.

I can only make an estimated guess at my period of incarceration in the Ipthakir penitentiary. I don’t remember my previous life. It has been wiped clean like sand drawings on the beach. I don’t remember for what I was incarcerated much less for how long.

The Ipthakir penitentiary is neither heaven nor hell; it is oblivion. The tales told of it by those who have worked there abound around us. But we have given it no heed. We would rather ignore such things, thinking them inconsequential. We are all caught up in our own struggle against life and death.

Inside Ipthakir, one is kept inside a room of stone with no doors or windows. Once there you are forgotten for all time. No one comes to feed you or check up on you- there are no baths or exercises. Inside those cells there is utter silence and darkness. Even the guards, not that there are many there- there is only enough need for two or three at most, fear to enter the empty cells that wait for its new occupant. Ipthakir is where people go to cease existing.

It has been said that no one knows how many prisoners there are in Ipthakir as nobody has bothered to count them. But what one does know is that those that go in don’t come out. What comes out of that prison is not what goes in.

The Ipthakir penitentiary is said to occupy, phenomenally, 4 leagues northwest, 8 leagues southwest, 9 leagues northeast and is bounded by the sea on the southeast. As to its nominal presence one can only surmise.

The prison is infinite though bounded by material expressions of length. Its fixed lengths are said to be a mirage. The newest prisoners are always kept in the first cells from the entrance. But when the next one arrives, it is as if no one has occupied the first cell at all. It appears empty, as if it has never housed anyone in its entire life. The question of the mechanics of the prison remain unanswered. No one has made any effort to find out how this finite prison works in an infinite way. Even curiosity has walls it cannot scale.

It is said to have been created under the wishes of Pedro Garcia. He intended it to be the place of incarceration of all those who stood against him. But misfortune did not allow him to see the completion of the prison. The prison was built with the combined efforts of the Architect and the Artist. It was their inherent talent that allowed them to fashion an infinite prison with a finite appearance.

When the prison was completed these two maestros handed over the keys to Pedro Garcia’s son. He in turn handed the keys to the state, repulsed as he was by anything his father had fashioned, under the strict orders that it be used for the good of the community.

People sentenced to the prison are the vilest of the vile. Their crimes have excluded them from all the normal forms of punishments, even death. It is funny that had Pedro Garcia been alive now, he would probably have been tried and sentenced to the very prison he had commissioned.

The decision to send someone to Ipthakir takes place after a lot of consideration or so it is said. I doubt that now. The decision today seemed almost rash, even reckless. Ipthakir is the perfect place to send criminals away. It is the perfect place to hide affronts to beauty and order and then forget about them forever.

The sea in its quest for dominion over the land is the only thing that can free the prisoners of Ipthakir.  The walls of the prison erode and fall away to the constant onslaught of the sea. It frees the prisoners whose cells face a sea that they have neither seen nor heard.

No one goes after the prisoners who manage to escape by the sea. In fact no one remembers the ones who escape by sea. They are the ones who have served out their time. In Ipthakir you don’t serve out fixed periods of time like in other prisons. No, in Ipthakir you are incarcerated until the sea frees you in its slow crawl forward into the prison. The prisoners who escape are no longer a threat to the world as they are no longer themselves. They are not even a shadow of their former selves. Ipthakir is a womb.

And it is by this sea I have reached my new life.

There are no memories of Ipthakir inside me. Only this feeling of great dread whenever I try to recall something. This feeling of unease, like something happened to me there. In truth I suppose it is precisely because nothing happened to me there that I have been reborn. Whatever I was before, whoever I was… it was wiped out. Inside that cell with no light or water or food or anything….. one cannot believe in one’s existence anymore. My friend Jerome says that existence needs existence to confirm it.

In the solitude of Ipthakir, without confirmation, you cease to exist.

There are no records of me, no photos in any newspapers. I can only then surmise that I was incarcerated atleast 20 years ago. I am still very young. Jerome says that I must be in my 20’s. I do not believe I was incarcerated as a child. A child commits no crime.

Then it must be that even time loses itself inside Ipthakir.

I now lead a calm life. I work a menial job, I have friends and I follow rules. I should have no interest in things that do not concern me. Dread is my recollection of Ipthakir. Yet I feel suffocated knowing that that man, the one I saw today, will be going to Ipthakir tomorrow. He is having his last hours here on earth.

I cannot…. I will not. The right to a man’s existence is his own. I cannot let them take away what he is. He does not know what the sentence means. I must save him from oblivion. I cannot stand by mute this time.

I must prepare some things…… there is no time to loose. I will save that man.


No comments:

Post a Comment