One Shade of Grey


          So here we have Judy Garland’s Dorothy, Toto, the Tin man, the Lion and the Scarecrow. All skipping down the roads of the land we knew as Oz. The original movie was done in black and white which was standard film back in those days. Every scene, no matter how joyous or terrifying all appeared grey. Sorta gloomy. I mean can you even pay a person in today’s modern society to sit and watch that movie? Of course not, folks want some color in their movies. They want some form of difference that will penetrate beyond one’s imagination. We demand clarity. We want realistic truths, when it benefits our own perceptions.

          We don’t want wicked witches, nefarious flying monkeys, dwarf size oompa loompas, nor fictitious wizards with UN-veridical intentions. No! Like Dorothy I just want to go home. Thou I realize that clicking my rhino three times just wont get me there. Truth is, I tried it and trust me it just don’t work the way it did in that movie.

           I had a visit from a friend that I saw for the first time since knowing her. Our conversations reach all areas within current topic, including the much hyped mommie-porn novel, “Fifty shades of Grey. “She thought it was very erotic, Not that she deceived herself into thinking it was her truth, whether that such a tale could possibly be anyone’s truth. That such things could even exist was ‘interesting’ to her.

           I didn’t have fifty shades of grey to tell her. I , nor what I had to say would stimulate anyone form of sexual erotica. What I did have then, was ‘A’ idea. One truth, one shade of grey in that my existence here on Texas Death Row, will not have the happy ending that was seen in the movie. ‘the wizard of Oz. ‘No matter how my kismet play itself out, the damage was done, and within my being I shall always have that shade of grey embedded within me.

           Back in 1999 I was sent to Angola penitentiary even thou no one knew why. I was housed in a area known as Raven D-Camp, where they dept some of the worst inmates. For the most part, it was as rough as advertise. But I can also admit that their living conditions were just that, living. They had access to Tvs, Clean living areas that was cleaned daily to kill germs and bacteria, way better foods that was being state issued as well available to purchase on their commissary, daily outside recreation where the sun could kiss inmates with its rays-allowing inmates to exercise and tend to their own health. If anyone (lord forbid) had to live the rest of their lives as an inmate then I saw first hand how inmates are suppose to live and be treated.

            Fast forward to Polunsky Unit’s Death Row. Where contrary to our loved ones and supporters thinkings: we don’t have access to any TV, but just think about that for a moment. Many of you cant live without watching TV daily. You all cant live without the internet, iphones, and other devices that entertain your eyes interest.

            Medically and theoretically speaking, it is a known fact that many of the illnesses that cripples the human body is contributing to the lack of exercise and unhealthy eating. Recreation here means that you will be put into a cage bigger than a cell, surrounded with not one piece of equipment than can enchance one’s health. Any exercise a inmate does comes from his own imagination and determination. (NOTE: Texas female death row inmates do have all the things that the male death row don’t, i.e. Tvs, exercise machines, better served foods and etc….) But even that, can only go so far. There are more men here that suffers from diabetes, heart problems, frailness, and multiple respiratory issues that can not be treated by the current outdated medical care system that is now forcing inmates to pay $100 just to see a nurse.

           I’ve been on death row for 12 ½ years now. And I have been restricted from any human touch since then. Human beings need to interact with one another to feel human, to stimulate hope and happiness. To Deprive any human from such is very draconian. We are a touchy feely human race, can any of you imagine you existence where you would go 13 years, 20 years, or longer without hugging someone? Without kissing your loved ones? Without simply holding hands?

           How many of you wash your clothes inside of your toilet? Yes that bucket like devise that lays within the area of your bathroom that is used by you to release yourself of the #1 or #2s? For whatever reason, this unit refuses to wash death row inmates clothing. We are responsible of doing so ourselves. Or risk the embarrassment of smelling like spoiled milk.

            Speaking of bathrooms/ I make a challenge to all that is reading these words right now to go lock themselves with their bathrooms and stay there for a week, a month, a year straight…. never coming out, can you do this with out going insane? If you want to know how it must feel to be stranded on Texas Death Row that is a good place to start. Perhaps then you will see the shades of grey that we here see everyday.

           I overheard this guy saying that his pen pal was wondering why she had not heard from him in a long while. I know that this guy’s family disowned him. He has no income coming in, so how in the hell did she want him to write to her. See nothing here is free,, don’t be lied to by these cloak and dagger feigned anti death penalty organizations that tell you Texas Death Row inmates has this or that. For the sole purpose of your giving your money to their organization. If inmates are going to write, somebody has to buy the paper, the ink, the envelopes and the stamps. Its just that simple folks, Nothing here is free. If we want soap, we have to buy it, if we want clean underwear, we have to buy it, if we want stamps to write our attorneys an supporters, you guessed it, we have to buy it too. But all Texas inmates are restricted to their cells and not allowed to work.

           In the movie, The Wizard of Oz, the Tin man wanted a heart, and in many ways I wish I had the heart to stand up against all the tyranny that is inflicted upon every male on Texas Death Row= day in and day out. The Lion wanted courage, and I too wish I had the courage to wake from my iron bunk and become that civil rights warrior that so many before me were that influenced real change. The Scarecrow wanted knowledge and wisdom… a brain, so that he wouldn’t always feel stupid in areas that seemed ‘grey’. I wish I knew how to make the world see the unjust ways these people here are treating us. To illustrate just how inhumane solitary confinement really is here on Texas Death Row.

           I wish that I could awake to a new day where my world isn’t. “one shade of grey” where I can enjoy the ticklish joys of what come from seeing some Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, Barney purple, orange. Pink. Brown and so forth. Colors that represent happiness and joys, Colors that for me would represent my freedom! Colors that would wash away all the grey that I now harbor inside/

Written by Charles Mamou May 2012

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