“Even behind prison walls I can see the heavy clouds and the blue sky over the horizon.” ~ Nelson Mandela from an unpublished autobiographical manuscript, written on Robben Island, 1975
Earlier this year I attended a creative writing seminar run by Anne Aylor. It consisted of us been given a topic or shown a picture and then we had 15 minutes to write about it. It amazed me how creativity flowed. I was far too nervous to read my pieces as I am no writer, but eventually it was my turn to read and I was pleasantly surprised that they were well received. I now decided to share a piece as I wrote it at the time.
A VIEW FROM A WINDOW
What can you say about a life spend glaring out of slits in the wall, a barred window, an obstructed view, an unchanging view – a view from a prison window. But also a vast view, an uninhibited view, an unlimited view – a point of view. He was incaserated for 27 years, this man, prisoner 46664, who viewed the world from the slit window of his cell.
A small cell that when he lay down on the floor the crown of his head would nearly touch the one wall and his toes the other, when he stretched out his hands, his fingertips touched the opposite walls. This bare room devout of love, this room that was his captive, this room that quenched his freedom. It was a small room, it was a cell. It was a small view giving him a glimpse of the limestone courtyard and not even a peek of the ocean he could hear. It was indeed a small cell for such a big man.
But it was a view nonetheless. It was a view that required lots of imagination, it expanded his mind, stretched his senses, opened his heart and freed his spirit. It gave him gratitude and grace and taught him forgiveness and love. It was a view that made him who he was. It was a view that enlightened his soul. What his eyes could not behold from this view, he beheld with his soul.
Oh, but if we only would view the world with his pount of view – this view this man had from this window…the view that touched my heart when I visited Robben Island and saw for myself the view from the window of his cell, Nelson Mandela’s view, the man I lovingly call Madiba.