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I thought life was just a series of circumstances - by Y.F.

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'N' Level student-inmate from institution TM1

3rd Prize

We often find ways to explain why certain things are the way they are. Why is the sky blue? Or why is the grass green? Some of these questions which we pose to ourselves can be solved through science. What do we do about those questions we can’t answer? Questions like why is life this way or why do I come from a broken family? Some people turn to a higher power to explain things, me, I found a philosophy which led me to where I am today. I thought life was just a series of circumstances, sometimes you get dealt a good hand and sometimes you don’t. Some people label this philosophy as the butterfly effect. I hated my life a lot and I would seek to understand why certain things in my life were the way they were.

There was always someone or something to blame and if I really couldn’t find it, there was always the butterfly effect to explain it. This narrow mindset of mine imposed limitations on myself and I destroyed my own wings as I constantly told myself I could not fly. I come from a broken family that led me to believe I was broken. I wallowed in self pity and blamed my own circumstances. My dad left our family when I was very young. I have two younger siblings and my mother’s workload was very heavy. In order to protect us from the pain she had to go through, my mother hid the truth from me as me and my younger brothers constantly bombarded her with questions about my father’s whereabouts. I never understood why she would lose her temper when I asked about my father whenever the opportunity arose.

The truth almost came out when I reached eleven years old. There was a trying period of my life as I was being outcasted and bullied in school, I stole money from home to treat my classmates to snacks and food so they would talk to me. Unfortunately when the terms of the benefits ran out, the terms of my friendship with them ended too. One day as I was ransacking my mother’s room for more money to “buy” friendship, I came across a lawyer’s letter stating the terms of divorce between my mother and father. My heart sank as I perused the letter, my eyes were unable to fathom what it was seeing. It suddenly dawned on me, why my father was barely around and why my mom had been so emotionally temperamental. I waited for my mom to come home so I could ask her what was going on. My mom reached home late at night as usual and went to the dining table to drink her usual tea.

I was having trouble bringing up the conversation, after all the answer may very well change my life. An hour later, I finally gathered the courage to speak to my mother. I approached her with the question not realising I would receive one in return. Conveniently I had forgotten I acquired the knowledge through forbidden means. Certain suspicions arose from both sides as each of us deflected each question with a question. Gradually the questions became more and more irrational, my mom asked me “If me and your father were to be separated, who would you choose?” I didn’t want to answer the question but even as a child I knew what my mom wanted the answer to be, so I gave her what she wanted. She then cleverly explained the divorce between my father and her was temporary due to some financial issues.

Basically she decided to jumble up a few grown up terms so as to confuse me. Honestly I wasn’t that daft but I didn’t want it to be true as well so I accepted her vague explanation.

Sadly, you can’t ever run away from the truth and not long later, I was confronted with the same information, this time however, I had no means of running away. Instead of giving my mom the support she needed, I blamed her for everything. This blame and hatred carried on for a few years until it came to a point where me and my mom couldn't stay together anymore. I moved out when I was seventeen, telling strangers my miserable life story and carried melancholy wherever I went. I developed a knack for lying to myself, like a hypnotist standing in front of a mirror. I was thoroughly convinced that I was perfectly guileless and devoid of any fault.

This lack of acuity brought me to where I am today. I am twenty two now, I have not seen my mother in years. I am currently in prison taking my normal academic levels. In life, we often blame our circumstances. I have had enough of thinking about what we can change in the past, instead I want to build my future. I see the butterfly effect differently now, I see it as a process of change … transformation. We first start off as caterpillars, we struggle, we fall. Then, we go through a process of self awareness, much like a cocoon, we curl up reflecting on what we could have done better.

Being in a cocoon is very much like how hard winters make a tree grow stronger, the growth rings inside it thicker. I like to think of my current sentence in prison as me being in a cocoon, reforming, changing and transforming into a butterfly. I hope this period of life in prison will leave valuable growth rings inside me and soon I will emerge with wings flying and soaring and I will find my way back home to my lovely mother and be reunited once again. Mom, if you’re reading this I’m sorry and I love you.

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