Sometimes there is no happy choice, Lucas, only one less grievous than the others.” said my mama,

I was 13 then when my father had suddenly disappeared one fine morning abandoning us.

“But, what if I want to be happy mama?”

“Destiny will decide for you baby.”

*****

A year later-

On a chilly dark night, she held my hand as we walked home. “Lucas, you see the police vehicle parked there? Don’t you dare lookup until we cross the officer. White officer no like black people. Don’t open your mouth, for no reason.”

“Hey you nigger, where to? What are you up to here at this time of the night?” the officer got down from his car and walked towards us.

Mama clutched on to my hand and said “Good evening officer. Been a long day, going home, couple of blocks down this street.”

“Oh I know, looking for targets eh? You bloody muggers!”

“No Officer, we don’t do no mugging. I am janitor in a chemical lab. Here, see my little boy Lucas. He goes to school, very bright boy.”

I kept my head down and let mama do the talking. But she was not talking anymore. She was digging her nail into my palm ….and squirming. I looked up from the corner of my eye.

The officer had his dirty hands on mama ..my mama. She was standing still, letting him do his shit business. Why was she not just pushing him away?

“Mama, let’s go home”

“You go Lucas ..I will be there ..you go ..run,”  she said letting go of my hand.

I could not look away anymore ..not while she was suffering. I will not abandon mama and run like a coward. I grew up that very moment.

Before the officer could react, his gun was in my hand and a shot fired.

****

That sound of the shot still rings in my ear and wakes me up every night in my dark prison cell, for the past 26 years.

“Don’t lose hope, Lucas, we will fight it out in the court of justice,” Mama would tell me every single time she came to visit me. I would simply smile back to her.

Hope – she had tied a knot at the end of a long rope and hung on it. And she believed she could hold on to it until her last breath.

The knot loosened up and she had a big fall, when the court announced capital punishment for his Lucas.

****

Day before the death row –

Sometimes there is no happy choice, Lucas, only one less grievous than the other,” she tore a page from the Bible and with due permission from the prison guard folded it and passed it to me as a last gift.

Later in that night after I had my last meal, I sucked on to the torn Bible page. Mama had made the choice for both of us.

***

The above story is an entry into #TheChoice a Five00 entry.
Check out event guidelines here: https://writers.artoonsinn.com/five00-6/

Check out Itali’s space here: https://writers.artoonsinn.com/author/itali-madhusmita/

***

Photo by Kai Kalhh


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