Once your morning of work, studies, and visits is over with, the afternoon in prison seems frozen in time. Nothing works anymore, it’s as if time has just stopped. It seems absurd to me that the rest of world optimizes their time to the max while here in prison, prisoners just waste time like you can’t even imagine. We could use this time to compensate society with public interest activities. When my work is finished, I go back to my cell. Here I either read a lot or have fellow inmates over for a cup of coffee. Any excuse is a good pretext to do so. We play cards or talk about football until dinnertime. We eat early and very fast in prison. It almost like a Tibetan monk’s life.
We are careful about personal hygiene in prison and we shower when hot water is available. If there isn’t any, you have to wait for the hot water tank to fill up. This is one of the most important problems in prison. I’d like to know where it says that a prisoner must shower in cold water.
**It has been sixteen years now that I’ve been showering in cold water every morning whether it be summer or wintertime. And how many times have I showered in ice-cold water? What’s the point of this extra punishment? It’s certainly not making me a better person. Yet, I repeat, dignity is a priority before everything else. Someone who forgets about their hygiene is someone who has lost their sense of dignity. **
Once we’ve showered, we get ready to eat. It’s early, but our cells get locked for the night at an early hour too. If you want to eat with the other inmates, or eat the food brought by caring loved ones, you have to do so at 7 PM. Otherwise, you won’t have time to clean up, put away the cutlery and the rest.
The area is quite small and you can’t just get up and leave without tidying up. After dinner, you have to wash everything. Afterward, we walk around in the hallway to digest somewhat. The main reason we do so is because after that we will be on our bunks all night until 8:30 the next morning. That means twelve hours during which you have to find your vital personal space in closed quarters.
Some choose to write a letter, some read, and others watch TV. I have started to enjoy reading again so I prefer to do that. This is my way of escaping the prison routine. But shh! You’re not allowed to say that word in prison.
Throughout all this time, you’re still just with yourself. It’s up to you to find a way to stay focused despite all the noises, people’s desperate cries and whatever else you hear when locked in your cell. But no matter what happens, you must ignore the distractions. You don’t know where the noises are coming from because the voices all sound the same when muffled by armored doors and TVs.
In any case, these cries for help are almost never heard. Hardly anyone listens to you in prison, and those who do lend you an ear, don’t even listen that much. It’s usually too late to help someone in need. A lot of inmates commit suicide in the summer, often because no one listens to their hardships.
Then it’s nighttime again…the noises…the heavy footsteps…back to the place of the living dead…that is us, the inmates.