Happy New Year, dear Laurence,
It is already evening here and I am writing to you from my cell. I wanted to send you this letter as soon as I was given this “breath of life”, the permission of a Christmas leave.
It was a strange sensation to send you an email and then to receive yours. And then to immediately send you another one, although I did not receive a response.
Dear Laurence, when I read about the effects of “incarceration syndrome” in legal textbooks, I simply assumed that they were exaggerated, inflated… but I was only deceiving myself, as I realized today…
Too much time has passed since my arrest, and every leave from prison reminds me that the world is now very different.
Everything has changed in my life. From 28 February 1988 until now, I have spent only 20 months in the “real world,” and during all those years in prison, 25 without interruption, I have seen the world evolve only through the means of the internet, newspapers and television. It is true, I educate myself in this “house of concrete”… but real life, everyday life, the life that one truly lives, and that is not without its hardships, because of various economic struggles, work, precarious health… well, that life is very different from the one that I have lived in my “fenced-in world”, a world that is cut off and outdated, that is behind the times…
Sure, I have the feeling of still being alive today, but I am trapped in my memories, stuck on images from the end of the 80s, when the popular cars here in Italy were the Fiat 127, the Autobianchi 112, the Fiat Croma, etc. When to make a telephone call, you had to find a payphone.
I feel as though this leave suddenly restored my life because my life no longer felt like my own. It is true that I was granted permission to leave prison under unusual circumstances. There will be no more leaves for me, but this “light” has given me renewed hope, because I had stopped hoping; today, it is as if pictures of my entire life, past and present, were flashing before my eyes.
I realize that we have, day after day, but for a single day, a reason to live, to have hope, to love, to finally live life the way it should be lived… and this is not just a play on words…
It is impossible to explain what it is like to be sent into the “real world” and to be uprooted for awhile from the “life of nothingness.” The real world, the free world, is nothing like our “little restrictive and archaic world”.
My head is spinning. The anxiety is killing me and even though I have been reading book after book throughout all these years in order to learn and to better myself, I realize more and more that the world is changing. Everything is shifting, sometimes moving in the right direction, but more often going in the opposite direction.
As you know, I chose to pursue a course in life that is filled with obstacles, full of sacrifices, without receiving anything from anyone… an “honest path” where I have always kept my dignity, without lowering myself by taking “short cuts”, which around here can be had if you have money …
I demonstrated the change in myself with concrete actions. Not only through my law diploma, and not only with the praise and acknowledgements that I have received. Sure, they are important, but I think that without strength of will and radical life choices, one can never erase “the record of the past,” or demonstrate tangible and positive change.
Throughout these long years, especially the last fifteen, I have been living in a “closed world, closed in on itself”. I no longer feel part of this upside down world, where everything is watched and suspected, this world where all we do is betray one another, where our lives are run by others, in which hypocrisy, jealousy, and envy prevail, where the environment is designed to make you submissive, to annihilate you, a place where “mental channels” and “unwritten rules” are the hardest to decipher and to overcome.
Dear Lawrence, I know very well that by writing these two pages, I have only managed to waste some of your precious time, but, at the same time, I am sure that you understand that I want to share with you the feelings and emotions that no one else can comprehend.
I look forward to your news.
— Published on 12 April 2017¶