Prison is no place like Home

The Australian novelist languishes in prison on charges of lese-majeste. He was not pardoned for the King’s birthday, but one hopes that Harry Nicolaides will be shown leniency for the New Year. As far as anyone can tell, the Australian embassy has done nothing to aid his case.

Here’s a letter from the prisoner to his mother.

Dear Mum,

I have been thinking of you and dad a lot these past few days as we head to Christmas. My only hope of getting through this depends on you and dad remaining healthy. If anything happens to any of you, I will not make it.
I am very weak. My heart is poisoned with sorrow and despair. My only respite is in thinking about the present. The moment I stop to dwell on the past or cling to the future I fall into depression. I lose the will to take care of my health and my presence of mind. The present is a relentless assault against my senses and sanity. I think about resuming my life again after all this is over. Will I be haunted by the memories? Will the stench of rotting garbage ever leave my nose? Will I always walk with my head bowed, looking to avoid stubbing my toes? Will the grime that has stained my skin ever wash away? It’s been so long since I’ve had a cold drink or a hot shower, or food at the right temperature. I have not used a spoon, or fork or plate for three months. I eat out of plastic bags. I am sick of sitting, standing and kneeling on concrete. I shave and wash without a mirror. I long to inhale fresh air into my lungs without fear of infection. I yearn for a good night’s sleep, not the semi-consciousness I endure most nights on the concrete floor. I wish to be able to use a toilet privately, not in the presence of 50 other men. However terrible the present is for me, it is more palatable than memories of Melbourne or the future that could have been. These thoughts remind me of all that I have lost. I try not to think about life outside but this does not last long. I see a photograph in an old magazine, hear a voice call my name and suddenly I am grasping at memories – only to fall hard when I realise where I am. I think about the journey our lives have taken. You and dad departed Cyprus for Australia in 1955. You raised a family. You helped to build a community. You witnessed half a century of Australian history. You reared me, educated me and loved me. I have ended up here where my extended detention in Thailand disrupts this great story. This is our story, our family history and our lineage. We must not allow it to be destroyed and scattered. I will remain strong and focused if you will. I will never let go of your hand mother and I implore you never to let go of mine.

Your ever-loving son

Peace and love for 2009 for the writer, who should have learned his lesson by this time. Never publish hearsay even in an obscure novel.

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