Roy woke up to the sound of bells clanging in the distance and sat up straight on the cold hard floor of the prison.
Every morning the cell doors opened at 4 am, and the inmates queued up outside the bathroom for their shower. After the shower and change of clothes, they would assemble in the main hall for meditation and prayers which lasted for two hours.
At six, the inmates would be present in the dining hall for breakfast which consisted, three slices of dry bread and a cup of tea which was bitter and cold.
Roy never mingled with other inmates and preferred to eat his meals alone
After breakfast, they were taken to the nearby mines where they had to dig up land for mining.
They would break for lunch at
1 pm, which was two cups of rice and a watery lentil soup with a small portion of vegetable, then
again resume work till 6 pm.
Dinner was served at 7 pm, which was the same as lunch.
Then after a roll call, they were sent back to their cells and by 10 pm the lights would be put out. Roy would be fast asleep dead tired after the days' back-breaking work.
That night as Roy lay on his bed he marvelled at how his life had taken a sudden U-turn. Where once he would be among the cream of the society, making websites for reputed companies and here he was spending his time in jail among thieves and murderers.
Surviving each day in jail was now an enormous task, being a soft target, he constantly bullied or beaten by other inmates, but he was oblivious to all this. He never reacted to anything or anyone, and after few days he was left alone by the inmates.
He missed his parents and longed to go home but he knew that was not possible now, as he would be spending most of his life here.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment for a crime he never committed, at least he thought so.
He couldn't remember a single incident about that night. His mind was blank...He tried and tried to recollect, but it only led to excruciating headaches and numbness.
Anna the maid, had found his Aunt dead in her bed strangulated with a broken neck. Roy was the last person to have seen her alive.
Aunt Shiba was his maternal aunt a childless widow, who lived with a maid named Anna in her Villa. Her husband had died many years ago. He was a rich landlord and had many rented properties which brought in a handsome income at the end of the month.
The maid took care of his Aunt's daily needs, two other helpers would do the cleaning during the day.
Roy would visit her whenever he could find time from his job, which was not often because they lived in different cities, she loved him dearly and would wait eagerly for his visits.
The last time he visited her was for a week. She was happy to see him and pampered him like a mother.
After a week while he was returning home, on the way to the airport, his cab met with a severe accident, and he narrowly missed death. He was in a coma for a week. By the time he woke up, he had lost his partial memory.
Once he recovered and was able to walk he was brought to the police station for interrogation. He was in a daze and failed to understand why was he being interrogated?
When the police informed him of his Aunt's murder he was shocked to the core, they had found the box which contained all his Aunt's precious jewellery in his suitcase and wanted to know how did it come into his possession.
Roy couldn't answer any of their questions as he didn't remember a thing, and police had no option but to arrest him on suspicion.
His parents had hired the best of lawyers to fight his case but it didn't help him. Aunt Shiba's trusted maid Anna testified against him, telling the judge about the massive fight he had with his aunt a day before he left the house, demanding money and property from his Aunt. She also said the day Roy left his aunt's house, she was not present in the house as she had gone to visit her son in the village and had returned, as Roy was leaving the house, and then she went inside the house and discovered the body.
Roy was flabbergasted, he knew she was lying, how could he fight with his Aunt whom he loved so dearly, but the crux of the matter was he had forgotten everything about his visit to his Aunt's house, and couldn't defend himself.
The verdict was not in his favour and he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
It was difficult for him to come to terms with the fact, that he had murdered his aunt, the thought itself was so abominable, how could he have executed it, he speculated.
He didn't talk to anyone as he wanted to be alone He had no interest in life and was living from day to day with nothing forward to look to.
His parents came to visit him many times but he refused to meet them, he was ashamed of himself and didn't dare to face them.
Over the years, Roy would regularly receive letters from his mother, saying 'she's waiting for him and knew he was innocent, and the day is not far away when he will be set free. Roy would feel more guilty and depressed after reading her letters.
On the 15th of July, was Roy's fiftieth birthday, and he realized that he had spent almost twenty years in jail. He had received a card from his parents, who still had hopes of seeing him free before they left this world, but Roy was not as optimistic as his parents.
A few days after his birthday, Roy was called to the warden's office,
"Be seated Roy, I have some good news for you?" said the warden, as Roy entered.
"You are being released today. As your track record is very good in jail, the state has decided to set you free. I have the necessary papers with me, and after a few formalities you will be set free.."
Roy was stunned and didn't know what to say he sat on the chair as if he had turned into a stone.
"Don't look so horrified, change into these clothes, " he said, handing Roy some plainclothes.
"I will sign the papers to release you"
Roy stood up and walked out of the wardens' office in a daze.
A couple of hours later he was out of prison a free man. He knew his parents would be elated to see him. He would call them later, but he couldn't return home as much as he wanted to, not till he clears his name and finds out the truth.
He had felt safe and secure inside the jail and wanted to run back inside. Neither did he have any place to go, nor did he know what the future held for him as he crossed the main gate of the jail and walked into the free world.