As anyone else, he never relished the damp, cold prison air.
But he was not anyone else. A solitary prisoner in the most heavily fortified section of the prison, he was waiting for his oblivion. The narrow shaft of light, pouring in from the dull incandescent lamp of the jail warden’s room was contrary to the state of his mind. He had lost the last ray of hope long ago. His clemency petition had long been negated by His Excellency the Governor.
Through the darkness of the night, the clock struck 12 beats. 12 melancholic beats. From his battered trouser, he took out the crumb of paper which possibly was his last possession for the past two days. He crossed it one more time. 5 more hours. To oblivion. Till justice is served. Five more hours till he was hanged, five more hours until he was free for ever from the shackles of law.
Official homicide, or in more refined terms, capital punishment, added an extra dimension to death, he felt. As he sat there, he was surprised that being a graduate degree holder in English Literature, he was unable to find the right word to represent the state he was in. Shock?? Nostalgia?? Agony?? Didn’t matter anyways. A deluge of memories gushed through him – right from a noble childhood, a turbulent teens, a frustrated middle age and a college life marred by drugs. But through it all, the image of the shining smile of his wife and the cherished moments they spent together pierced his heart with a penchant so strong that he felt like tearing his chest out. As he sat there, he was sure that she would be, at this very moment, running around to submit the clemency petition to His Excellency the President himself. But he was sure that nothing would work out. All the more because he deserved this.
The mood of the prison was aptly depicted by the dead silence of the night, regularly hindered by the ticking of the century-old Gothic clock. It felt as if the clock was doing a countdown by itself as to the moment when the world would be made a better place by reducing the overwhelming number of criminals by an insignificant unity. With a deep sigh, he recollected his pledge a few days ago, to spend his final moments in this world with composure. The swarm of thoughts swirling inside his head was interrupted by the chime of the clock, as one more hour of his life ebbed away. The startling noise finally destroyed whatever resistance he had and he broke down, sobbing like a child. Even the walls seemed to mock at him, as it reflected back his wails in endless echoes that loosened him further, till he lay back exhausted and drawn-out.
At last, he made himself to get up. He made his way to the solitary wash basin at the corner of his cell. As he immersed his damp face in a handful of frigid water, he suddenly felt better. As if that was not enough, he paused to look into the mirror above the wash basin. Though nothing was visible because of darkness, in his mind he suddenly had an idea. He sensed a glint of certainty enter his blood shot eyes. A solemn moment passed before he simply rammed his fist onto the dirty mirror.
He felt a sense of detached calm as he spent the next few hours, recounting the few happy and the many painful memories that marked his life. At last, he heard the shuffle of footsteps upon the corridor, which he knew to the executioners – a sound his ears were straining to pickup for quite some time. And then with a state of calmness that surprised even him, he picked a fragment of the broken mirror and slashed his wrist deeply with it. Even as he watched the blood gushing out in a torrent, the door opened. The sight of the smiling face of his wife and the pardon in her hands was the last thing that he saw before the darkness of death engulfed him.