The cost of the game (revised)

Kamau, Abdul-Malik



1 of 6 The Cost of the Game (Revised) 1/18/20 Each day, i am reminded of the immeasurable cost(s) of longterm imprisonment. The most glaring of which, is having children that i truthfully only know, via letters! And, to add further insult to one’s injured heart, I now have to endure the very same pain with my children’s children!! My (3) adult children spent the majority of their lives living without a father. And now, their children live without a grandfather. We now have a lifetime of separation! Missed hugs & kisses. It is this separation which's caused them to be so jaded about life. And, distrust people in general... ”Men” in particular! Leading to a very unpredictable & oftentimes antagonistic dynamic between us. In their eyez, I am the “O.G”! Who chose the outlaw life/death style, over them. All of my declarations of: love, longing, and remorse, fell on deaf ears. Adults, who never forgot all of those missed birthdays & holidays, made bitter by my abandonment. My imprisonment created a never healing wound, in each of my children & myself! Most of my fellow captives see, the loss of: material trinkets, money, and/or women, as the most painful aspect of doing time?! For me... was/is, the loss of my family! Talking too...seeing daily...being able to touch them! Is something(s) quite excruciating to be denied! The “25” someodd years that i’ve spent, behind the wall & fences of America’s most dangerous prisons! Being moved from state to state, has made one acutely aware of how traumatic, forced separation(s) can be?! An atavistic throwback to how my ancestors were kidnapped & enslaved! My opinion anyways... It has taken me a virtual lifetime, to finally grasp the pain which I’ve caused my family! From; the worry which accompanied my constant S.H.U. treks, not knowing if i was dead or alive?! To visits behind glass! To constantly have to navigate the ever changing prison companie’s vendor policies! Just to put a few dollars on my acct., trying to alleviate my suffering to some degree!! The above tell the truth?! My actions have done irreparable harm to my loved ones! Something which i both - accept & regret causing. Having spent such an inordinate amount of time in prison, much of it in S.H.U! 3 ...i’ve had to learn how to deal with: minimal contact with, or no contact at all! With my loved ones?! Many have passed... (my grandmother last month actually) & other’s...simply have buried me in their minds?! Choosing to go on with their lives, pretending that i am no longer alive figuratively! These things have made one develop a ‘hard shell’, if you will?! A very painfully acquired skill, forged within the fire of isolation! Without which, one would likely go mad. For you see, even the most backwards of prison captives, ‘feel’ pain?! In our moments of reflection, alone in the cell, with nothing but one’s thoughts & innerdemons! is when our masks come off! And truth hits one square in the face. The ‘game’ which we’d literally sacrificed all we’d had for, had in turn left us for dead! As the old 'hood' sayin goes... ”The game never changes, only the players.” Our sacrifices, applauded in days past, now means nothing! Life simply goes on...without us! Just as the greater macrocosmic society, under the sociopolitical/economical system of capitalism casts aside those of no use to its maintenance! Or past employable age! The microcosmic 'hood'/prison-class mimics this ostracization process! ‘Homies’ both male & female, doing extended bids/life 4 ...having put in work for the “hood”! Are often forgotten once imprisoned! A ‘lil liquor poured out on the concrete in one’s honour! Not withstanding leading to many, developing mental illness(es) and anti-social personalities as a result of the abandonment! Personally, I fight daily to remain sociable! To not be made bitter by my loneliness. I strive to resist being made into an unfeeling, uncaring shell of a man! The prevailing prison ideal, is to distrust everyone! Those whom are not from one’s particular gang, geographical area of origins, and/or religious doctrine(s), are not to be interacted with! An ideal that facilitates antagonistic relations & anti-social tendencies. Creating a captive class, unable to, or oftentimes, unable to reacclimate into ‘normal’ society! To elaborate... Once released in ‘09’, i found myself living a lie?! I was free, but imprisoned mentally! Entering college, I discovered a passion for learning & prison experiences had one ‘struggling’ on a daily, to just cope?! The residue of [Cacoq?] life, had one eschewing crowds! Avoid 5 any committments! And, remaining aloof when emotion(s) were expected, from partners! I was unable to open up & share my innerpain. As if in so doing, one would be seen as ‘lesser than,’ a man?! Prison politics had conditioned one to see so-called 'manhood,' as being predicated solely upon one’s toughness, and abilities at withstanding the psychological stressors of prison, in silence!! I’d created an illusion of security, which’d accompanied the persona formed within some of the most violent prisons in the U.S.! Communication skills made primitive by: backwards prison-talk, S.H.U. tier talk, and isolation. Causing me to be both: uncertain & insecure when in conversations with societal citizenry?! All of this to say... The cost of the game is...the loss of an identity & replaced with a number. Gaining ‘comrades,’ while losing family. Acquisition of a bedroom body, but losing a woman’s touch. Earning a national reputation, but losing my good name! How does one continue glorifying ‘the game’? Especially, as one considers the fact that A) all of my circle of associates are dead! B) doing life 6 ...or, C) crippled! The cost of ‘the game’ was/is paid in human lives! My own life included. As such, no longer can i pretend...continuing to uphold a ‘G-code’?! Especially as, a full prison signify(s) the casualties of the game. In my ignorance, i said & did things which, today I am ashamed. My 2015 conversion to Islam, has aided one in coming to terms with my game oriented thoughts & deeds! In my forging of a relationship to/with my Creator, i’ve found an innerpeace, that i've craved, my entire life! Without Islam, I would likely still be walking about, sleepily within the throes of game psychosis! Still extolling simpleton science(s), - as if there was anything positive in which to speak of?! Rather than the sane response, which’d be to cry at the numerable losses a result of ‘the game’! My journey towards self-reflection, self-criticism, and self-correction continues...God willing! Abdulmalik Kamau 1/2020

Author: Kamau, Abdul-Malik

Author Location: Connecticut

Date: January 18, 2020

Genre: Essay

Extent: 6 pages

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