The Gate Pass


Birds are flying leisurely around the heavily guarded jail. Lucky beings. How I wish the inmates inside the facility could breathe such fine air and enjoy such cool weather…

The officer at the Naivash Maximum Security Prison main gate takes light years to enter my identification details in the dog-eared official visitor’s book.

 “Name of prisoner you are going to visit?” He asks angrily.

 I tell him the name and he takes another eternity to scribble it in the book.

 “You look like a Luhya person. Which tribe do you come from?”

 I tell him my tribe but there is a doubtful expression on his face. To him, I am Luhya. I don’t know why he has stuck to that.

  “What crime did your relative commit?” He asks.

  “He is in Block A” I reply.

 Block ‘A’ is for those on death row. I notice a sympathetic expression on the faces of the people around.

 A call interrupts the job. He takes a long time chatting with his friend about the good weekend they had the previous week, the fat lady who fell in love with him and so on.

 When he finishes the call to our relief, he complains about his lunch. I think I am dumb here for I only nod when he says that his favorite meal of chapatti and beans only costs fifty shillings. In response, the officer abandons my case by requesting that I wait for a while as he goes on to serve other visitors.

 They are clever visitors. They do not just nod as I did– they dish out some dirty notes for the man, what makes him sign their gate passes faster.

 I make up my mind to be served faster by shaking his hand with a fifty shilling note. Gate Pass Number 13 is issued instantly with a broad smile. But there is another obstacle at Block A’s…

 “You will have to wait.” This one says casually, slipping the piece of paper bearing my details carelessly in his pocket. “Can’t you see it is lunch time?”

 The jail’s walls are tall and thick. Armed policemen all over. Tight security here. The birds flying around the complex do not know how lucky they are. How I wish my relative was able to fly away like the chattering birds…

 Many thoughts are racing in my mind as I wait for an hour. Two. Three…

  “I have been waiting for the last three hours sir.”I remind the officer guarding the jail gate. “I think lunch is over.”

 The officer seems to have forgotten me. He has even forgotten where he kept the paper I gave him but his memory comes back to life when I sneak a fifty shilling note in is hand.

 At last, I am allowed to visit my relative. We shed tears as we great each other through the glass that separates our physical contact. He has been here for three years now. He is skinny and shabby after exhausting the last resources we brought him.

 Of course I have carried some money for him. He needs food and soap and razors blades for shaving. He needs many other basic things. Some of these things like razor blades are contraband but I know how they will get to him. After all, the police who is monitoring our conversation is yawning. Isn’t it a sign that he wants some lunch?

Explore posts in the same categories: Fiction

3 Comments on “The Gate Pass”

  1. bagaka Says:

    good piece, keep it up.the exoression ‘contraband goods is faulty. contraband is just that – contraband. Nice going.

  2. Napah Says:

    this story has really moved me!

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