Monday, 21 January 2008
The Prisoner from Bangkok
It's been several years ago now that this was going on. Easter Sunday in church we had coffee as usual once a month. We could take a picture postcard to send to prisoners in jails all over the world, wishing them strength and comfort. I took a card to send to a prisoner in a country which I can't recall now anymore. Some time after this I met a friend of our church. She asked me if I wanted to do something for her. I said that that was okay if I could. She had also sent a card. This was to Bangkok and she had got a letter back, but she couldn't read it, for it was written in English. I offered to translate it for her, but she asked me if I could answer the letter myself.
So I did and this was the beginning of a correspondence which lasted about three years. The prisoner was a young man of 27 years old from an African country, and had been in prison for six years. His crime was dealing and possession of drugs. He told me that he was sentenced to life. I was shocked and felt sorry for him, so I answered his letter, and why not?! He was grateful and told about life in prison. At one time he asked me if I would be so kind to send him somewriting paper and a ballpoint. So I sent him a parcel,containing writing paper, biros, canned food and a few other things. He was very grateful. However, after some time he started to call me mother, which I didn't like. I asked him to call me Wil or Mrs Dubois, anyway not mother. Then came a letter in which he first told me a story of a 60 year-old woman, who had wanted to have an affair with him when he was 17. He asked me then if I had many boyfriends before I was married, if I had any affairs when I was married and if I had a boyfriend now. I felt insulted and very angry. I wrote him that he mustn't ever write such a letter again, for that would be definitely the end of the correspondence. Well he was sorry and apologized a couple of times, and I accepted his apologies. From time to time I send him a parcel and he was glad to receive them.This went well for some time. Then came a letter in which he used my maiden name. In Holland we use first the surname of the husband, then the maiden name. My husband's family name is Dubois, my maiden name is Roest. So my name is Wil Dubois-Roest. He thought that my husband's name was Roest and used that.He asked what I thought of it and wouldn.t it be nice if he used this name, for we could adopt children in Holland, couldn't we? I answered him that only my father's children had the right to bear that name. And we could only adopt a child under the age of ten and he was far beyond that age. So I asked him to stop this nonsence. In almost every letter after this he expressed the hope that he could live in the Netherlands and find work here.I told him over and over again that in our country the unemployment rate is high and he didn't stand a chance Then came the news that he was going to be granted amnesty and was going to see me in Holland. I wrote him that I couldn't have him here. He then wrote again that I couldn't refuse him now. I finally wrote that when he turned up and showed himself on my doorstep, I would call the police. He asked me how I could be so harsh.Then my sister sent him a letter, telling him that I was a very frail, old lady and going to a nursery home for elderly people.( it was not true of course!) He wrote another letter that he was very sad and the letter was written in Dutch by another prisoner. The next letter we sent back from another Dutch town. Then we heard nothing more of him. Was I harsh?? I think so