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The best chef | April 4, 2017
Powerful and poignant as ever. Speaks volumes about the injustice you have faced and overcome. You’re never alone.
April 2, 2017 | 1 Comment
It’s 1:30 p.m., and the clanging of the pots and pans against the steel doors was getting irritating. The guard walked at a leisurely pace with the keys jingling in her hand. “They do this on purpose, I swear to God.” my roommate muttered. Finally the jagged sounds of the key sliding into the hole is echoed throughout the corridor. Then comes the slamming and clunking of the heavier lock. Through the tiny window on this massive steel door, the women look at the guard and tell her to hurry. They want their turns on the burner. The inmates scurried out into the hallway into the small, dirty dungeon of a kitchen as soon as the guard unbolts and widens the door open. Open doors in prison? That’s a rarity. It’s easy to forget that once you had the freedom of opening a door yourself.
She moves on to the next door, and the next, until all the doors on the left side of the corridor are wide open. The women on the right side wait impatiently for 30 minutes as 40-60 of us on one side hurriedly hover over three working heat burners, and an oven. We need to cook our meals, heat our water for our coffees or showers in time. 30 minutes quickly pass, and we take whatever we had done to our rooms. We unpack our meals and water into cups and tupperwares, the right side inmates are off to their marathon of timed meal prep. We look at what we have accomplished in those 30 minutes, we’re pretty proud considering this is going to last us until the next time we get let out. In 24 hours.
We give back the pots, pans, and anything metal or metal like to the back of fridge outside of our rooms. The guard walks in, “girls, anything left around here under the restricted category?” she says while her eyes quickly dash around the room to check. “No” I say as she barely makes eye contact, turns around and she slowly but aggressively shuts our door. The keys again rattle, but this time to lock us up, again. For the rest of the day. That’s it. 30 minutes of being outside your room was the “fresh air” they told the visitors we would get to relieve them of their worries about our health.
For days, months, and years, this is what we did. Beyond the few feet from wall to wall, our eyes adjusted to a certain length of distance to visualize. The one time in months we go out to court, chained with our ‘bodyguards’ of course, the disarray our minds were in was unexplainable. Our vision was blurred, our thoughts restricted, and negative current flowed through us, applying it to every word said, every action done. Nothing was good. Everything and everyone was against us. Now imagine that’s how you lived your life for so long, that it becomes the definition of life for you. And then you’re let free. How would you feel?
“Alone. Yes, that’s the key word, the most awful word in the English tongue. Murder doesn’t hold a candle to it and hell is only a poor synonym.”
– Stephen King