INSTALMENT 12 – “Ahmed’s Nose”

Date of writing : 22/01/2014

Six weeks then.  I was told to expect an adjournment of 1-3 weeks, but it turns out to be six.  Well, as I said before, there are some advantages to remaining ‘innocent’ for longer – more spendable money, more visits, no obligation to work in the textiles workshop … I should be thankful for these benefits, even though I’m left in sentencing limbo.  Ho hum.

Someone punched Ahmed in the face yesterday – the first violence I’ve encountered on this wing.  I’ve heard varying accounts of what led up to this, none of which has so far turned out to be true.  I have to say I’m not surprised, as I can imagine myriad things that he might do to which people could take exception.  Regardless of the cause, it was certainly a hefty punch; his nose was noticeably swollen on one side, and looked like it might have been slightly broken.  There was a lot of blood, both on his clothes and on the floor.  It was quite a scene.

Now, I’m not so much troubled by the violence as I am by what happened afterwards.  His cell (and on the opposite side of the landing, my cell) is at the far end of the wing, perhaps 60 metres from the ‘business end’ – the entrance, servery, office, and showers etc.  I’ve previously noted occasions when I couldn’t see any officers keeping an eye on things despite everyone being out.  It happens this was one of those occasions.  Nobody saw, nobody heard, nobody came.

I say nobody, but specifically I mean no staff.  My cell mate Paul saw Ahmed a few moments after it happened, as he was just heading out to use the phone.  Other inmates saw too, and news quickly spread to the 3’s.  The top floor is where the enhanced, the long-term and many of the wing workers live.  We lower mortals aren’t usually allowed up there.  Some people let this go to their heads, and a few seem to think they somehow run the wing.  Soon enough, Ahmed was ushered back into his cell, nose gushing, as several of the self-appointed came and went.

Some came to clean up: the floor was mopped, and the biohazard cleaner got a special bag to put his bloodied clothes into. Meanwhile, the heavies came in and had a little ‘chat’ with him.  I’m sure it was all very friendly in its tone.  Ahmed, not being the brightest button and a little too trusting, was easily convinced that this ‘doesn’t need to go any further’, and that someone would go and have a word with the perpetrator.  Evidence removed, and victim placated, the loose-knit ‘let’s pretend’ mini-mafia hung around a bit, with a few others coming and going just to make sure, then retreated to the stairs and higher landings to keep an eye on things from a distance.

This was close to the time for evening lock-up, and by now word had spread to pretty much everyone, except the officers.  As they came along the rows of doors to lock us in I looked around and saw an unusually high number of people hanging around on the landing – perhaps thirty or forty.  Almost all of them were looking (but pretending not to) in Ahmed’s direction, to see what he’d say to the officer before he was locked in.  The answer was nothing.  He went behind his door without a word.

Before this, and after the minor bullies had retreated, I had been in to see if he was all right.  I spoke to him with DF, about how it was actually up to him whether he should be talking to the officers about it, and that maybe he should be seeing a nurse about his nose.  I had to be careful about doing this – much as I don’t want Ahmed to be pushed around, or for certain inmates to think they have control, I also don’t want to be seen to be interfering or ‘grassing’.  It’s quite possible for them to make my daily life uncomfortable if they feel the need.  In any case, it seems my attempted intervention was in vain.

As it turns out, the aggressor turned himself in.  I’m told he wants to move to another prison and has been requesting this for some time.  I don’t know if he thought this would help his case at all, or if he was just expecting to get caught and thought turning himself in would be better.  (He had become a minor celebrity among the inmates).  He spent today locked in his cell, and will probably face other consequences.  Although I’m glad he’s being punished, I’m still troubled by the cover-up and manipulation operation that so smoothly and quickly swung into action.  I just hope the majority of the wing who don’t get involved in the problem may have the courage to try to intervene where they can in the future.

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