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Friday, 2 January 2009

Second Chance?

The story below may be long (and boring for some), but I sincerely hope everyone to read every word of it, and may it inspire us to study or work harder towards achieving our goals. Wishing everybody good luck in the new year.

There was this man. Let's call him, say, Bruce. Bruce was about to be released after spending 2o years of his life in prison, after committing a crime in his teen days.

After signing a few papers and documents, a police officer gave Bruce the directions out of jail. Bruce listened intentively, eyeing the officer's belt. His eyes glided from the shiny buckle to the pistol and baton, clinging on to the polished leather.

What he feared most, however, was the handcuffs. He had spent a lot of his days thinking over his life in prison, and swore that he would never want to come in contact with those cold curved steel anymore.

"Good luck," the officer suddenly patted Bruce on his shoulders, bringing him back to reality. Bruce turned to leave, trying to recall the directions given to him just few minutes ago.

Somehow, he found his way to the main gate of the prison, after going through several automated bulletproof doors and guarded exits. He then laid down his things (wrapped up in a blanket) and waited.

He called his sister two days before, and left a message telling her about his release. It's simple, he thought. I just have to start life over again. I'll hang over at her place for the moment, and after getting a job, I can rent a room elsewhere and blend into the world seamlessly. He immersed himself in his fantasies, which didn't seem that far away.

Except that nobody showed up after two hours of waiting.

He became impatient and strolled up and down along the tall prison walls. It was nearing dusk that he finally accepted the fact that his sister wasn't coming for him.

Who was he kidding? Why would his sister come for him? Why should she help her start all over again? They had met little over the past two decades (and had lots of disagreements even before that, which Bruce deeply regretted, along with plenty of other things), and she had rarely followed Mother to visit him in prison. She had said nothing to him during all of her visits, except her last, which was two years ago, when he told him about Mother's death.

He sat down beside the road, catching the last rays of the orange sun of the day, attempting to swallow his sorrow. Why had he wasted his first chance to live when he had a loving family and a promising future? At 39 now, he knew his future is as much gone as the sun that day was. He had been nothing but shame and disappointment to his family since he was born. He had no employable skills. He didn't even know how to take care of himself in the real world, being fed and watered on time daily behind the walls. He had no places to go, nothing to do, no one to go to - the prison had been his only home and shelter for the past 20 years.

He stayed stuck to the spot for a long time, nailed to his thoughts, sorrows, and regrets. He finally picked himself up again, long after night fell. He unwrapped his bundle and rummaged the contents within.

There's the blanket, the old toothbrush he'd been using for the past two years, a tube of half-finished toothpaste, a spare set of thin clothes, two novels (so crumpled after two decades of being flipped on daily basis), pieces of wood crafts he had learnt to make in prison, a few notebooks filled with sketches, his red identity card, some pencils of varying length (mostly short), and bits of eraser. Nothing much of value.

Except... hiding in the bottom of the pile, a golden ring. Bruce remembers that - he used to hang the ring around his neck like a necklace. It got confiscated with loads of other things when he first entered prison. He couldn't remember the details of the ring, and wondered how much it cost.

After admiring it for a while, he pocketed it and wrapped the other things up. With a deep sigh, he then stood up and walked into the darkness, hoping desperately that the next day would serve him well.

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