KAJANG: There was nothing much that he could say except shed tears when he got the opportunity to meet his mother, whom he last met six years ago.
“This is indeed the best Ramadan for me,” said Ahmad (not his real name), who is now serving a prison term for a criminal offence.
He kissed and hugged his frail and wheelchair-bound mother as if he never wanted to let her go.
According to Ahmad, the seventh of eight siblings, he could hardly wait for the moment to see his mother.
“I have been waiting for this moment for so long, six years is long enough… to meet and hug her,” said Ahmad, who was met at the “Program Pautan Ramadan di Sebalik Tirai Besi” (Ramadan prison visit) organised by an NGO, Yayasan Prihatin Malaysia (YPM), and the Kajang Prison recently.
Ahmad did not want to recall his past actions that robbed him of his freedom.
Ahmad, who hails from Rawang, Selangor, was given a 16-year prison term in 2010.
“Everyone makes mistakes. I can only ask for forgiveness from Allah for my past mistakes and sins.
“Life in prison has taught me to know myself better and Allah. I take it as a blessing from Allah,” he said, adding that he hoped to take care of his mother when he is released in 2026.
Previously, he was the one who would take the mother, who suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure, to the clinic.
“Since I was incarcerated, my mother’s condition has worsened. Maybe she is depressed because of me,” he said in a regretful tone.
It was a different story for another inmate.
“When my husband’s death sentence was commuted to a life term, only then did my children and I regain some hope”.
It was like coming back to life again, lamented Hidayu, in her 40s, in sharing her feelings with Bernama on her husband, who is now into his eighth year of his prison sentence at Kajang Prison.
The resilient mother of eight kept sending appeal letters until her husband’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2014.
Her husband, who only wanted to be known as Firdaus or Botak, 41, was arrested under Section 39B (1) of the Dangerous Drugs Act for drug trafficking before being jailed in 2010.
According to Firdaus, in 1999 he and several friends were arrested after a police raid at a house in Jalan Ipoh. However, due to lack of evidence he was released in 2002.
“However, the prosecution appealed and I was arrested again and given the death sentence in 2010.
“This is my destiny I guess, but I am grateful that Allah still gave me the chance to live and meet my family again as the sentence has been commuted from life to 20 years in jail,” said Firdaus, whose release is scheduled in 2023.
A wife’s sacrifice
Besides his wife, his sons aged 11 and 13 were also present to break fast and perform maghrib prayers together at the prison.
His wife, said Firdaus, was his source of strength and provided undying support though she herself has been fighting breast cancer for the past two years.
“Before this, we only saw each other behind a glass window and spoke through the intercom… This time, we can see each other, face to face, and break fast and pray together.
“This is the best gift anyone could give me for Ramadan and Hari Raya,” he said, adding that he missed the family gatherings during the Raya morning.
Hidayu, who hails from Gombak, took on the role as the head of the household and relied on two working children to support the family.
Her six other children still attend school, including the youngest, a 9-year-old girl.
“What saddens me the most is seeing how the children long to kiss their father’s hand on Raya morning.
“Sometimes, I cry in my room seeing how my children are growing up without their father,” said Hidayu, who has been receiving follow-up treatment following her partial mastectomy.
From drugs to prison
Because of drugs and peer influence, Amir, 26, of Cheras, wasted two years of his life behind bars.
He acted under the influence of drugs when he committed armed robbery in Kajang. This led to his arrest along with his three friends in 2014.
“I began taking syabu at the age of 18. When I want to rob, I will take extra and add on Eramin 5 to boost the effect.
“When I’m on drugs, there’s no feeling of fear. I feel short-tempered and feel like I can do anything,” recalled the youngest of three siblings.
His biggest regret is not being able to meet his father who died of cancer during his early days in prison.
“I know he was disappointed in me in his last days. It is also the reason why I am determined to become a better person, to redeem myself for past mistakes,” he said, adding that life in prison had taught him much about life.
Most importantly, it strengthened his spiritual side and it got him to pray. He admitted he never prayed prior to entering prison.
Selected inmates only
“Program Pautan Ramadan Di Sebalik Tirai Besi”, held for the first time at the Kajang Prison, is one of the development and human remodelling programmes carried out there.
Selangor and Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur Prison Director Darussalam Budin said it was part of the… effort to foster closer relationships between inmates and their families.
“We selected 50 male inmates to meet and hug their family members. It will definitely help ease their longing.
“It also serves to motivate inmates to be disciplined and be on good behaviour during their time in jail,” he said when officiating the ceremony.
Meanwhile, YPN chairman Ismail Abd Rahman plans to extend the contribution programme to inmates and their families as a social responsibility programme to assist efforts by the Prisons Department.
YPN, which previously focused on helping those in need such as the poor, single mothers and orphans, has expanded its scope to prison inmates and their families.
“This may help families to be more positive and optimistic in welcoming inmates back into society,” he added.