Image courtesy of Michael Collins
Content warning: suicide
This year, Unlocking Detention is particularly focusing on the impact of detention on an individual’s immediate social circle – their friends and family. This piece by Ajay is the first of several on this theme from members of the Freed Voices group.
When he was asked how detention had impacted those around him Ajay said that ‘there was no one around me. There was only me…or who I used to be, anyway.’ And so, for this article, Ajay penned a letter to his former self – the one he knew before he was detained in Brook House detention centre.
Dear My Pre-Detention Self,
It’s been such a long time! I haven’t seen you for almost a year! I feel like I don’t know you anymore! Where the hell have you gone?! Where have you been hiding?! Why do you not get in touch? I thought there was no secret between You and Me. Are you ok? Is everything still good with you? Are you still hopeful? Are you still on your way to achieving your goals? I hope that everything worked out as planned.
I remember the last time I saw you was at Alex’s birthday, at the Queen’s Head. You were so talkative, making fun of everything. You wouldn’t let the conversation drop for a second. Are you still like that? Do you still want to be a computer engineer? I remember you were in the middle of your studies the last time we were together. I remember your friends asking you whether you were ever going to grow up – you seemed so happy to be in the present moment! I remember you smiling a lot…and enjoying the odd lager (or two!) as well. Are you still playing football with your friends every Monday? Do people still call you the ‘Nepalese Maradona’? Is your hair still like a chicken? Are you still wearing those Nikes you loved? Have you still got the stud earring you used to show off all the time?
I have to admit, I had to collect ALL my strength to write this letter. I am writing it in difficult circumstances. It’s not quite how it used to be for me. Laughing in the pub feels a long, long way away. I wish we could go back there, and be together again – You and Me.
I’ve just come out of detention. I was detained for about three months. Most of the time in a place called Brook House. It’s too much for me to explain everything about what happened to me there in this letter. But it is an experiences you would never want to even dream off. I hope you never go through something like that.
Do you remember when Me, You and Ram got locked inside Ram’s flat that time? Well, imagine that but for three months. Only without each other to chat to. And without the food we wanted to eat. And without sunlight coming in. And without the sofa or the bed. And without peace of mind the door would open at some point and we’d go outside. Imagine that we were also surrounded by other people who look like they’re experiencing the end of the world – some people are screaming, some people are silent with fear, some people are crying. Some people try to kill themselves in front of you. Imagine one night a stranger in uniform comes in and drags Ram out the door. And you don’t know where he’s gone or if he’s ok. And the lock on the door turns again. And its shutdown.
Well, this has been something like my reality over the last few months.
When I came out of detention I had nowhere to go. I was nearly homeless. I had no-one to talk to. I had no-one to go to the pub with (and also no money to buy anything). I had no-one to play football with. I really missed you then. It would have been good just to see you around. Even just to sit together and have a small chat. Even to sit together in silence.
I think detention changed me a lot to be honest. I wonder if you’d even recognise me now if we saw eachother. You’d probably think I was a different person. I wish we could get back together and hangout. I wish we could get back the old vibe we had, back then.
I miss you. Do you think I’ll ever see you again?
Wishing you all the best my friend,