The Inmate and the Guard

seagull sky

In the remote hills of a country there was once a small but well-fortified prison where prisoners were sometimes sent.   One of the prisoners was a man the guards respected.    He was a mystery to them.   They were told to keep guard over him and they did.

Over the years the inmate and a particular guard grew to know each other, not in the way close friends do but certainly in familiarity as they often played backgammon together.  Both were observant of each other but there was still a gulf between them as most of their time together was in silence.

One day the inmate asks the guard a question, “Who is more free?  The jailor or the jailee?”

The guard looks up from the board and attempts to scrutinize his unflinching gaze.

“Well i am not the one sleeping behind iron bars every night, am I?”

“Well i can assure you these feeble bars do not impede my existence much.   At night i dream and explore how i choose.  And in the day i choose my state of mind and i am free.  Like a bird soaring.  I do not see myself as a victim of circumstance.  But you are charged with the responsibility and duty of making sure i do not escape.  One day these bars will cease to be part of my physical reality.

The guard laughs impetuously but there is a touch of fear in his sound.  The inmate knows the seed is planted.  What he has said will grow into something as the guard contemplates it.  And sure enough, over time it does.

The years pass.  And it could have happened in many ways but the inmates words come true.  The country’s government changes power and he is let go.  The prison ceased to be part of his experience.

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