A Christmas Letter To A Father’s Jail Cell - written by Alfred (a short story for kids)
In case you don’t remember, it’s me your son; Jimmy. I was 9 years old when the cops took you away and I would be 13 years old by January next year. Somehow I taught you would be here to show me how to be a man but then again it’s your definition of being a man that has stolen you away from me.
I made it this far living in that same old rough neighborhood. That’s a miracle in itself. In case you don’t believe in miracles that’s a miracle right there.Even though I didn’t understand why the cops took you away and Mum didn’t want to tell me why, she said that maybe when I’m older she would tell me.
I was curious to find out. Curious to know why all the kids looked at me differently from then on in school. Until one day I got in a fight with a bully and I beat him good. He then said that I was going to grow up to be a drug dealer and go to jail just like my father. That was when I knew the private detail about my life that everyone else knew except me.
Like if a spell or a magic wand had been waved on me, from that day onwards I decided to live however I wanted to live. I said whatever I wanted when I wanted. I insulted whoever I wanted when I wanted. I dressed however I wanted when I wanted. I fought whoever I wanted when I wanted. I pretty much said away with the rules and made my own golden rule which was to follow no rule whatsoever.
Mum and I started fighting very often. I remember I would hear her crying every night but I would sandwich my ears between pillows and fall asleep on my bed. I couldn’t care less if an old woman decided to stay awake all night crying about me when I felt that nothing was wrong with me.
I even remember when I was eleven and Mum tried to stop me from going out to hang with some my friends just because they were in a gang. I jumped and hit her over the head with a flower vase, sending her falling to the floor with a loud thud.
When she was at the hospital, in other to protect me she lied and told the doctor that she had accidentally hit her head on a cabinet after trying to pick up a piece of paper that fell in a hard to reach place and as her head hit the cabinet a heavy flower vase on the cabinet lost balance and fell on her head.
I don’t know what would have happened to me if she told the truth.
You would think that after that I would have changed but interestingly I only got worse. I joined a gang, and by this time Mum was afraid of me. I was happy to notice that my own mother was afraid of me. I commanded her to give me money whenever I wanted. I would take money from her purse anytime I wanted, and anytime she saw that money was missing from her purse in the house she dared not complain. I would command her to cook whatever I wanted whenever I wanted like she was my slave. I would often wave the Gun that the gang gave me in her face so that she would know who is in charge in case she was thinking of forgetting.
Mum was afraid of tell anyone what was going on at home and I really don’t know why. Back then I thought it was because I was just good at being bad so she feared the repercussions I would impose on her if she told anybody. But now, I don’t quite know if she didn’t tell anyone because she feared what they would do to me if she did and so she rather hoped that I would change. Or if she didn’t tell anybody because she felt she didn’t deserve better.Mum started taking drugs and she got hooked on it. I didn’t care. I only saw an opportunity to make a lot of money. From watching her I saw that if I sold drugs I would make a lot of money.I told the gang what I was going to do and I started selling drugs on the street corner. I was the first one in the gang to really get into the drug selling business. Formerly, the gang just did gang banging and liquor store robbing even though the didn’t allow me to go liquor store robbing with them. They always kept me in the loop but said I was too young to go with them for now but when I turn 13 they would consider me going with them.
My street corner drug selling business flourished and the money started rolling in. I soon had other sub-ordinates under me who sold drugs for me. At this point I started thinking of quitting school and by the time I had my first 500 dollars in my pocket I threw away all my school books. I told myself that school books are just the white man’s way to keep us down, they don’t want us to know the truth. They don’t want us to know that we don’t have to spend over 20 years of our lives going to school so that we can come out and get a job from them and make money working for them, when we can easily dish school right from when we are young and make a lot more money selling drugs.
Mum didn’t say anything when she found out I quit school. She was too scared of me by now besides she had her own drug problems to grapple with. The gang I was in soon became the most feared gang in all the neighboring neighborhoods. I was proud to be a member and I wore my tattoo with pride. I soon became notorious and even the mention of my name struck fear in other kids. I was so young yet I had achieved so much: I had found out the truth about schooling, I had become as feared as all the 20 and 30 something year olds that where in the same gang that I was in, and I was pushing major papers. I always had a lot of cash in my pocket and I wasn’t even old enough to have my own credit card yet. I knew that by the time I turn thirteen I would own my own car. My mind was set on a Cadillac because it is the car that gangsters use in MTV music videos. One day, I followed my gang members to beat up a guy who had spray painted his gang sign over our gang sign on a wall in our neighborhood. We beat him up half to death and left him there covered in his own blood. We couldn’t care less.
The next day, while I was working home alone at night I got ambushed. It was the boy we had beaten on the previous day.
He had come with his gang members. They pointed a gun at me, and for the first time in my life I felt like if my heart had just fallen out of my chest. I felt my whole heart fill up with fear and it was just as if all the blood in my body had stopped flowing and my whole body went pale and numb.
I looked into the eyes of the person holding the gun and I could see that he was going to pull the trigger. I had seen that look in my best friend’s eyes before, right before he killed someone. The boy pointing the gun at me pulled the trigger. I taught it was over for me but nothing happened. He pulled the trigger again but still nothing happened. The other members of his gang around him were confused and someone else pulled out his gun, pointed at me and pulled the trigger. My heart felt a sharp pain as it skipped a beat but still nothing happened, the gun didn’t go off. He tried again and nothing happened.
They looked at each other. They were confused, but then they decided to beat me. They beat me up mercilessly. They kept on beating me even after the point I couldn’t even feel the blows to my body anymore. It was like the ability for my brain to translate the blows to my body as pain had been damaged as well. It was like if my nervous system wasn’t functioning properly any more.I think the reason why they finally left me was because I actually stopped breathing. When I woke up I was in the hospital. My Mum had managed to pull herself temporarily away from her drug habit to sit at my bedside.
I was hospitalized for days and interestingly none of my fellow gang members ever dropped by to see me.
One day while I was in the hospital, it was visiting hours and Mum hadn’t come by to visit me yet. An old man showed up. He looked rather strange. He had a large beard and also had some tattoos. Even though he wore his clothes to cover the tattoos I could still see parts of it sticking out beneath his sleeves.
He asked me if he could have a seat.
I asked him who he was.
He said that I should relax that he is here in peace, and then he sat down without waiting for my permission to sit.
He then told me that he was your friend, Daddy. He pulled out pictures of you and him that he had carefully put in an envelop and gave them to me. He told me that I can keep them. As I looked at the pictures I saw pictures of you, Daddy. I saw pictures that Mum didn’t even have. Pictures that went back to when you where around my age.
Apparently, the elderly gentleman that had come was your childhood friend. He said that you always called him “Malice.” I’m sure that the name must ring a bell. He said that you called him that because you said that nobody can hold a grudge like him and whenever anyone hurt him, he always never let it go until he hurt them back.
Malice, told me a lot about you. He told me things about you that made me start crying. He told me things that made me realize that I was turning into you. I was doing the same things that you did and was heading down the path that you where heading.
Malice told me about the decisions that he had made. It was a miracle that he wasn’t in jail like you. He told me about someone who God brought into his life to tell him about Jesus.
Malice said that he was now actively involved in the local church. He told me things about Jesus that I never knew before, and he answered all my questions which finally made LIFE make sense to me.
Malice told me that Jesus loved me.
Before the end of the hospital’s visiting hours I had said the salvation prayer and also the prayer to receive the Holy Ghost. I was even speaking in tongues with my new friend; your old friend.
He dropped the address of the church that he attends with me and told me that he would be coming every now and then to chat with me. He also told me of a program that is designed to protect those who leave gangs. He knew the punishment that gangs give to members who wanted out, and so he knew I would need the protection: the legal kind that works in union with a Christian church.
By the time Mum showed up he was already leaving. Although Mum could recognize the face she couldn’t place where she’d met him or how she knew him. He simply greeted her and went on his way.
As Mum asked me about him I told her all that had happened.I apologized to Mum over and over again and for the first time in my life I realized what a monster I had been to her. I cried and begged her for forgiveness.
Mum said that from the time she stepped into that hospital room that day she had sensed that something had changed about me. She said that if God can change me then God can change her too.
She asked me to lead her in the salvation prayer and that very day she enrolled in a program in church that helps drug addicts recover.
Now Mum and I are closer than ever, Daddy. We now know first hand the awesomeness of God’s love and the infinite extent of his power.
I now love to read books and I’m back in school. The teachers say that I am pretty mentally advanced for my age. My literature teacher encourages me to become a writer. I totally agree with her. I enjoy writing Christian songs and stories. I believe I have a story to tell.
I also no longer hate the white man. As a matter of fact, some of my best friends now are white. I now know that white people are not the enemy. Many of them care about us and many of them have sacrificed so much to help people of color.
Also the resentment I held in my heart for you Daddy is gone. I no longer hate you. I have nothing but love for you now. Jesus has taken the hate away.
Mum now loves you too. Even though she hasn’t said it to me with words, I know it.
She has hung back up your wedding picture in the living room for everyone to see.
Dad, a lot have gone on since you where sent to jail. I have a lot to tell you. Did you know that they now have cell phones that can tell you exactly where you are when you are lost? You can even watch TV on your cell phone now. There has also been a lot of changes in the community that I doubt you would even recognize if it’s the same world you where living in before you went to jail. I miss you, Daddy. I wish I could show you everything and get to hang out with you again.
Anyway, how is everything with you? I know that life in jail must be tough but I also know that life in Christ no matter where you are whether you are in jail or not is a happy life. When you live your life in Christ he makes everything easy. Jesus looks after those that are his and he protects them whether they are in the deepest valley or on the highest mountain.
When you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, because you are in Christ nothing can by any means hurt you. A thousand shall fall by your side and ten thousand at your right hand but it shall not come near you.
Daddy, I don’t know what’s going on in your heart right now as you are reading this letter. I don’t even know you because of how the repercussions of your actions has separated you from me. I only know of you and if it wasn’t for what your old friend told me about you I wouldn’t even know enough about you to be able to convince someone that I’m related to you if it wasn’t for my D.N.A. So I can’t claim to know how you feel but I know that if you cast all your cares and worries upon Jesus he would care for you.
I attached a salvation prayer and a prayer to receive the Holy Ghost at the bottom of the letter. I hope you say them. I hope you receive Christ into your heart. I love you Daddy, and Mummy loves you too. Mummy and I have been praying for you every single night a few days after we got saved and we would never stop praying for you.
I love you. I would be waiting for you. No matter how long it takes. Merry Christmas.
I will always be Your Son.
I haven’t lost faith in you.