27.1.06

got to get some ice cream

When J and I were talking recently about the unhappiness surrounding his work and future, the word which cropped up in our conversations was "trapped" - and I thought of Wayne Lo.

Who is Wayne Lo?

Wayne Lo, like Took, is a convicted murderer - except that he was "lucky" his crime was committed in Massachusetts and not Singapore. So instead of the death penalty, 19 year-old Wayne Lo was sentenced to life in prison in 1992 (pre-Columbine days) for having killed 2 and injuring 4 other students at his college campus with an AK47.

For the whole context of the murders in 1992 , you can read Gone Boy: A Walkabout - A Father's Search for the Truth in his Son's Murder (reviews in NYT and Salon also give an idea of the case), which waswritten by the father of one of the students who was killed.

I only knew of Wayne Lo recently from the latest issue of Giant Robot (available in Kinokuniya & Borders), which featured an interview with him. I suppose there is a natural curiosity about what it must feel like for a young person (ex-music prodigy), now past 30, to be sentenced to life in prison, and to carry that guilt of having taken 2 human lives (not to mention the grief of their families and friends).
Prison is limiting, but I am thankful to be alive [...] I believe the victims of my crime will live comfortably knowing I'm behind bars, so I'm not going to start saying that I deserve a pardeon because that will only hurt them again [...] You've got to come to terms with your sentence. Many never do. They keep dreaming about the day their verdict is reversed or they get a parole or commutation. They put everything into that dream, and when it is not realised, they crumble. I am aiming very low. I have no aspirations of ever getting out. Would I want to? Sure, but I keep it real. I work on how to make the most of my narrow future.
He ends the interview by asking for an ice cream from the vending machine. Puzzled by his request, the interviewer asked why he should ice cream be such a treat, does he usually not eat it? To this, Wayne Lo reminds, "This is prison. It's punishment!"

So why did I think of Wayne Lo?

Hmm, I guess the mind just works in a weird way. The comparisons certainly don't measure up. OK, not many things can compare to that lifetime physical imprisonment - its high walls, its "narrow future" - and its daily reminder to the prisoner of the blood guilt he must bear and pay for, his cowardice, his hatred, his sins judged in a court of law. Maybe in a kind of reverse fashion, although the prison that is our own self-doubt, fear and anxiety is not a physical prison, we are often rendered helpless and immobile by it - unable to take a next step simply because we cannot imagine there is a next step.

But friends, this being a Friday and the start of a long Chinese New Year break, I say we just get us all some ice cream!

3 comments:

fortycalibernap said...

i'll second that. happy new year. job angst tends to work its own version of magic.

in the meantime, i'll keep walking.

ampulets said...

yep, keep walking... that's good to remember when all you want to do is to run!

said...

i love ice-cream. just wish i'm having some now!

(word verification: "ylili"!)

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