Episode 21
Chris does not move away from the wall where he
is leaning, and he does not drop his folded arms
from across his chest.
His eyes are hard glints of suppressed anger as
he watches them approach.
They stop and as they look at him he can see
the shock in their eyes. He is still naked from
the waist up, and they know that he has always
been a hairy boy.
Their shock stems from the way his body has
changed. The bulging fat he has carried to
prison has melted, and his body is hard and
The results of five years of terrible labour in
Effe glances at Chris’ mother, and she sees the
horror in her eyes too .
It strikes all of them that life at the Grand
Castle Prison had not been an easy one for
Hello, Chris. How’re you doing.
Your Mom called me yesterday, Chris. They
wanted to see you, and I promised them I’ll
bring them here today.
Chris says nothing, but slowly the fury ebbs
from his eyes, and in its place is a look of
sudden sadness.
There is an uncomfortable silence for a little
while, and then the man of God takes a step
closer to his last son.
(clearing his throat)
Listen, son, I think we went through a hard
time as a family when this whole thing happened
five years ago. You showing up at the Church on
Sunday brought home the hard fact that it is
time to put the past behind us. First, let me
apologise for selling your house, and dumping
your things outside. That was bad of me, and an
unforgivable childish act. I’m very sorry.
You don’t have to apologize, sir. From what I
remember of you, you’ve never been sorry for
anything in your life.
(almost sobbing)
Chris! Stop it! We’re trying to meet you
halfway here, son! At least appreciate the effort
from your father!
I can’t believe this! You still sit on your
pompous ass, don’t you, little brother? You
beat up your uncle almost to the point of death,
you pump yourself full of your cocaine shit and
sloth up liquor, knock down a poor girl and tears
off one of her legs! You refuse to say sorry,
and we, your family, has taken the flak for you
all these years, and now we’re here trying to
smoke the peace pipe and you still expect us to
lick your feet? Well, I bloody well isn’t going
to do it!
Stan! Step down!
Diana moves close to Chris, and her eyes
desperately search his hard face. Tears are
shimmering in her eyes.
They had to force me here, Chris. You know I
found it very difficult loving you as a brother
when Roland died. But today they forced me
here, to see you, to forgive you, and to accept
you back as my little brother. Please, don’t let
me regret coming here!
Mrs. Bawa walks forward, and her cheeks are
stained with tears.
Chris, Chris, my son! Please, please, you’re
a part of this family. When we heard you’ve
been arrested again, it dawned on me I could
lose you again! I begged your father to let us
come and look for you. All we want is to heal
the bad blood, my son. You say sorry to your
Uncle for beating him up, and say sorry to your
father for the humiliation you caused this family,
and that’s all. We’ll accept you back!
She tries to touch his cheek, and he moves away
from her, violently, angrily, as if her hand is a
When he speaks his voice is hard, and his
words come out like bullets.
Sorry? Say sorry? I’ve paid for my crimes with
five hard years of my life! I don’t owe anybody
an apology anymore! I was in prison for five
years, and none of you, NONE, paid me a
visit. You cut me off your family, right after
Roland died, and guess what, I’ve learned to
live without you! I don’t need you, and you
definitely don’t need me! So let’s stop this
d–n charade! You want me out of your life?
Good, I’ll stay away. And all of you should
just stay away from me! I survived alone, when
Rodney died, and God knows I’ve not had any
family love from any of you since I was twelve.
So just leave me alone.
His voice is filled with such pain, such
bitterness, that it shocks them into silence.
Eyram reaches them then. She is holding a jar
of cold orange juice and some buns she has
made, and she looks curiously at them as she
also approaches Chris to give the juice to him.
But she can’t go on anymore, because the
moment she speaks, Chris turns away from
them, and heads for the veranda.
And when he turns away they see his back for
the very first time, and the moment Eyram sees
it she gasps with horror and drops the tray.
The buns and the jar of orange juice fall to the
ground, and the jar breaks, but she pays no
Effe gasps with shock and a terrible pain rips
through her stomach.
Diana gives a small scream and jumps back, her
trembling hands jumping to her mouth.
Mrs. Lois Bawa clutches her stomach, and her
knees wobble.
Stan, who has been prepared to give another
scathing remark at his little brother, stares with
his eyes wide open.
The Reverend Bawa reaches out and steadies
himself against the side of Eyram’s car.
Oh, dear Jesus!
What they have all seen is a most horrible
Chris Bawa’s back is a map of the pain he has
gone through in prison. His back is terribly
tortured. There are clear terrible scars on his
back where a hot iron has been pressed, taking
the skin away.
There are knife scars on his back, cigarette burn
scars, whip marks, spike marks, hot water
scalds, and a host of terrible scars that has
turned his back into a mass of the most horrible
skin map ever.
Tears fall down Effe’s cheeks.
Eyram is trembling so fiercely that she almost
falls down.
The man of God rushes forward blindly and
catches Chris’ arm.
(voice unsteady)
Dear Lord! Who is responsible for this? Chris,
my son, who did this to you? Tell me! WHO
Chris knocks his father’s hand off his arm, and
he pushes his father back so hard the man would
have fallen if he had not come up against
Eyram’s car.
Keep away from me. Just leave me alone.
He enters the room, bangs the door, and locks
For several moments the people he has left
behind cannot speak or move.
And then, still shaken badly, Chris’ family
Effe climbs to the door and turns the handle.
She hammers on it and calls his name, but he
refuses to come to the door.
She sees that Eyram is hurrying back to the
main house. Effe leans her back against the
door, and she shudders as the sight of his
mutilated back comes back to haunt her.
She squeezes her eyes shut, but still her tears
of horror seep down her cheeks.
Oh, Chris!
She gets down to her car and drives away.
JAILBIRD continues

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