The Jailbirds song


I got out of the car and walked towards the detention centre, an ominous looking building fenced in by sky high brick walls and barbed wire. None would dare to climb in or jump out. I breathed a sigh. I could be working in a famous research hospital learning new techniques and walking with distinguished people. Surrounded by murderers, drug addicts, burglars and arsonists, this p…

osition was not what I had envisioned. But I had accepted as the pay was good. The guards handed me a bunch of keys that would lead me into the small clinic that treated adolescents who were arrested for misdemeanors. Teenagers in jail attire were escorted to the clinic by armed guards. The wild, defiant eyes would lock with mine and questioned my goodwill. They had only seen a world that plundered and exploited. Why would they trust me? As I tended to their ailments, I sensed a softening in them. I hoped that they would trust the hand that healed. They talked. Of abusive childhoods and parents addicted to drugs and euphoria. Of sisters and brothers who were killed in gang wars. And they pledged revenge. The tattoos on their skin proclaimed the gang to which they belonged. The gangs would exploit their youth, anger and desire for acceptance and cultivate them to become gang members who would master murder, arson, burglary and drug dealing. And they can never return. For some children there is no other choice. This is all they know…except for her. She sang. As I completed the paperwork, I heard the lilting voice filled with pain and anguish. An effort to uplift her spirits which was confined in the dark dungeon. My pen stopped mid air and the urge to see her face grew. I walked outside. Her flowing, long hair reminded me of a princess. But when she turned, her eyes were not innocent. They were angry, resentful and filled with pride. No one would see her pain. And yet, there was an air of vulnerability which she could not dispel. She was only sixteen. A caged songbird. She was brought in the next day to the clinic, crying and gasping for air.Asthma exacerbation. She had vented out her anger by slamming her hand repeatedly against the wall in anger. Her parents did not want her anymore. They would not visit her. Her sense of abandonment flowed from her being in a stream of tears which I could not stop….


( An original sketch in charcoal and oil pastels by me. I gave it to the Juvenile Detention Center. I hope it is lighting the dreary darkness of some  juvenile who lost her way and is finding herself in that Detention Center…)

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