Cold Walls..!

And today, a story of Smiley from a play I had written years ago. Smiley was a convict imprisoned in one of those high security jails. Smiley used to look at the high walls that stood between him and the world outside, and longed to be free. He vowed that if he ever got his freedom, he would turn over a new leaf and become a responsible citizen of his country. “Never,” he vowed, “will I go back to crime!”

And one day he was given that chance. The jailor came and informed him that he had been pardoned and that he was free to leave the stone walls of the prison. Smiley, smiled to himself, and with a grin on his face, and happiness in his heart he left the walls far behind. “Freedom man,” he thought to himself, “this is what freedom means,” he said, as he walked through the residential area of a rich city.

“What are you doing over here?” asked a rough voice, as Smiley was grabbed by the shoulder.

“Just walking,” said Smiley, as he recognized the local cop, and felt the strong arm of the law.

“Then don’t walk over here,” said the policeman, “or I’ll book you for loitering.”

A bewildered Smiley left the area, and realizing that he was hungry and tired, tried to get a job somewhere. But as soon as people heard he had just been released from prison, they shut their doors. Smiley walked down the street, looking at the closed doors and seeing the warm lights inside the houses, but the walls forbade him to enter.

Finally, starvation, written all over him, he lay near a park bench, and tried to grab the leftovers of a sandwich, that had fallen near him. “Police!” shouted the owner of the sandwich, and the very same policeman came and struck Smiley on the face. It was just a matter of minutes that Smiley found himself back behind the stone walls of the prison. The jailor was troubled as he looked at Smiley. “What happened my son?” he asked.

“Sir,” said Smiley, “I have returned to the stone walls of the prison, but it is far better than the cold walls outside!”

…..Cold walls, so much thicker, stronger and more fortified than walls of stone. Cold walls that we build around ourselves to shut out other people. I remember travelling in a car, and being angry that my wife, wanted to give money to a hungry beggar outside.

“Don’t,” I said.

“Let me,” she said, as she put down the glass and gave a rupee. She knew how to break a wall, I did not!

Let us break those cold walls, we have built around ourselves, so we can not only allow people to reach out to us, but we can also reach out to them before they choose the stone walls of a prison in desperation..!

Robert Clements is a newspaper columnist and author. He blogs at and can be reached at


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