Last time around we visited the provincial jail, we came across a 70-year old PDL (Person Deprived of Liberty, new inmate term) who has been there for several years already.
Our guide said he is the oldest inmate so far. We could see in his face the wrinkles of the years spent living inside the jail compounds. Aside from this old man, I also saw familiar faces who have been there since we started visiting the jail for our yearly outreach activities.
I learned that almost 70% or 7 out of 10 inmates have drug-related cases. But anyhow, the provincial government did not go remiss of its goals to help the inmates. Today, they have mushroom industry, shell-beads business and a wide vegetable garden all of which are sources of income.
One that caught my attention was a middle-aged man, a professional agency employee who murdered his girlfriend. The girl supposedly broke up with him to marry another man of her parents’ choice, prompting the man to confront her. In the middle of the argument, he pulled out his gun and fired several shots, killing the girl on the spot.
I could see the remorse in the man’s face, such fine man who was victimized by his passionate love for the girl.
There were also other familiar faces there, some townmates, others acquaintances who are spending years inside the jail.
This summer, I happened to listen over You Tube a classic song (it was my first time to view it) entitled, “Yesterday When I was Young,” and I remembered these lonely people inside their lonely cells.
I fell in love with the song especially with the versions of the late Matt Monro and Shirley Bassey that it immediately became a blockbuster hit in my cellphone. Some of the lyrics run:
Yesterday, when I was young/ The taste of life was sweet as rain upon my tongue/I teased at life as if it were a foolish game/The way the evening breeze may tease a candle flame.
The thousand dreams I dreamed, /The splendid things I planned/I always built, alas, on weak and shifting sand
I lived by night and shunned the naked light of day/And only now I see how the years ran away.
Yesterday, when I was young./So many lovely songs were waiting to be sung./So many wayward pleasures lay in store for me/And so much pain my dazzled eyes refused to see.
I ran so fast that time and youth at last ran out/I never stopped to think what life was all about/And every conversation I can now recall/Concerned itself with me, and nothing else at all.
Yesterday, the moon was blue/And every crazy day brought something new to do/I used my magic age as if it were a wand/ And never saw the waste and emptiness beyond.
The game of love I played with arrogance and pride/And every flame I lit too quickly, quickly died/The friends I made all seemed somehow to drift away/And only I am left on stage to end the play.
There are so many songs in me that won’t be sung/I feel the bitter taste of tears upon my tongue,/The time has come for me to pay for yesterday… when I was young.
The lyrics, tune and melody are so touching that it makes one wonder of the many useless years spent during childhood, with all those adventures – bad and good. When I saw all the inmates there at the provincial jail spending their years away from their family, away from their love ones and away from the community where they ought to belong, I felt sorry for them. The song is an ample tribute that describes the wasted years.
Emen Lobun reacts: “Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength. There is a fountain of youth: it is in your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age. She’s right. It seems just yesterday that I was young and had my whole life ahead of me and had unlimited potential. I had all the time in the world, at least I thought I did.”
Carol Glenn says: “So much meaning and feelings behind these words. I can’t begin to say how this is how I feel and not have expressed my thoughts and feelings in such words. Writer must have some insight into what these words express.”
Yin Yang rejoices: “Listening to this makes me think that maybe I was born too late in this lifetime. I’m 38 but my soul feels very, very old. Hearing this brings tranquility to my chaotic mind.”
I don’t know how the young may react to the lyrics, fellas, but to the senior citizens who wasted many years when they were young would probably shed tears in remorse for a thing missed or a thing undone — when one was a still a child or a youth.
Childhood is the time for children to be in school and at play, to grow strong and confident with the love and encouragement of their family and an extended community of caring adults while youth is best understood as that period of transition from the dependence of childhood to adulthood’s independence and awareness of our interdependence as members of a community.
There is a stage in our lives called the stage of reckoning, fellas, and often we smile or cry for the things we did yesterday — yesterday when we were young.
Touched by the song, a pretty middle-aged woman said: “I wish I could turn the time back to fix my faulty decisions, my study choice, my friends and worst of all was my husband.”
Mel Read concludes: “Never heard this before but it highlights my past, of 67 years. They went in the click of a finger and all I have is memories. How can all that anguish, pain and laughter be reduced into a lifetime of no time? I was young yesterday but not today – and there ain’t to much tomorrow.
Ingrid K5 adds: “I remember listening to this song as a little girl. Even though it held no meaning for me emotionally, I still had a gnawing feeling that one day it would. Give this song respect and a wide berth because one day it will come for you. Longing, waste, regret. The most expensive of these is regret. ”
How about you, fellas? How did you spend or how are you spending your life?