One of these days I will be able to write about my experiences visiting an Afghan prison. I am one of those lawyers who has never seen the inside of a prison, except for some, like Robben Island, that today are museums. But it is still all too fresh in my mind and I cannot quite capture the myriad of emotions I went through while visiting this place. It had to be one of the strangest, most surreal, perturbing, curious, worrying, enigmatic, perplexing, and â€“frankly- bizarre yet hopeful experiences of my entire life. Am sure there are more adjectives to describe my emotions.
I had opportunity to visit the cells, talk to the prisoners, and observe a selected few in their rehabilitiation or vocational environments that involved working with metal, leather and wool.
The prisoner cobblers were working on creating charming women and girls’ shoes. There was something touching to see these men (all convicted hard-core criminals) cutting and gluing and nailing together all these shoes. There was a master cobbler who was teaching the prisoners how to be shoemakers.
We did not speak the same language. We come from different worlds. They were making useful but pretty things, some seemingly delighting in the novelty of a visit by strangers, and asking to have their photos taken, while others tended to their craft with serious and meticulous concentration.