KARACHI: For most Muslims across the globe, Eid is an occasion of joy and happiness to be spent with family. For the inmates at Karachi Central Jail, however, the occasion brings only tears and regret.
Eid is one occasion where the memories and thoughts of family members are strongest. It fills even the most hardened inmates with remorse. They wish they could change the past, and for once, secretly pray to walk as a free person again.
Mansoor Mujahid, an award-winning filmmaker who has been arrested in a murder case, will be celebrating his second Eid in jail. Differentiating between the Eid spent with his family and at jail, Mujahid said that the special occasions are best to be celebrated with family and friends. "It is the small things that sadden you," he said thoughtfully. "A hug from the nephew, late night gatherings with friends, the taste of qeema cooked by mother," he counted the things he missed dearly.
Mujahid is keen to resume his life from where he left off - filmmaking. He hopes to make a movie on the issues of prisoners, the difficulties faced by the judicial system and the problems of the jail officials - who are bound to spend Eid with inmates every year. Mujahid will be wearing a brown kurta shalwar on Eid. He, along with 6,000 prisoners, will perform Eid prayers inside the jail, wearing the special clothes their families have brought for them.
The menu will include a sweet dish with breakfast which will be followed by qorma and biryani at lunch and dinner, said the officials.
Shahrukh Jatoi keeps distance
The officials said that the family of Shahrukh Jatoi, who has been convicted in the Shahzeb murder case, will arrange lunch for the prisoners on Eid day. Jatoi has, however, distanced himself from everyone at jail and he never meets anyone, said the officials.
Sentiments of the prisoners and their families were different altogether. Families, who had come to see sons, fathers, brothers and others, were speechless. Everyone wanted to celebrate Eid with their family members at home. "Eid is not the same without family members," said an elderly man, Muhammad Rafiq.
Many prisoners were seen in high spirits or at least trying to put on a strong face for their families. One such prisoner was Sikandar Ali Sheikh, who has spent around 50 Eids inside the jail. "I have seen a lot of people come and go. The habitual offenders keep coming back and instead of regretting, they are almost happy to see each other again," he joked.
Mujahid and Sheikh agreed on one thing: the prisoners have mastered the art of smiling even at the most difficult times.
"Eid is a special occasion inside the jail too," said the superintendent at the Karachi Central Jail, Kazi Nazeer Ahmed. "The jail is a mirror to our society. Whatever is outside can be seen inside."
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2014.
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