The Bad Boys of Bokaro Jail by Chetan Mahajan
A highly educated corporate executive ends up in Jail. Far away from him home. For no fault of his and spends about 30 odd days there. The situation is revealing as the people from two different worlds meet at an equal footing. Irrespective of their backgrounds and their alleged crimes. They are all victims of the system to an extent. The author of The Bad Boys of Bokaro Jail comes out, introduced to a different world. And hopefully more sensitive to it.
This work is purely based on author’s first-hand experience. And he mentions right in the beginning that everything is true. Including the name of the employer for whom he had to go to jail. I see some restraint in his writing. Some holding back and feel that fictionalizing the narrative can potentially lend more truth to the story. When you are talking about people who are in power even when they are in Jail, you tend to be a bit constrained. And also the relationship that you developed with them over 30+ days of living together comes into play.
Book gives a day-by-day account of the time author has spent in the Jail. He has tried to present his daily routine in jail along with what goes through his mind while he was there. The author introduces the reader to various under trial people in the jail who were his world for the time he was in jail. He has not mentioned in the book, but I am sure he is an MBA as he begins to categorize jail inmates in categories. That he neatly fits into a flowchart that can be a part of a corporate presentation. Now, this can be seen as profession’s impact on personality. Or it can be seen as maintaining the distance and observing.
To me, this book is about how the mind works when you land up in a situation like this completely unplanned. And live every day with an illusion of being out of it the next day.
What author does to deal with this is engage himself in running, reading and writing. And talking to a few people in the prison. He somehow maintains an emotional distance from the inmates. That I think is difficult to maintain when you are pushed together in a small cramped space together with nothing else to do. What he does manage to bring out very objectively is how things work inside a jail. How professional inmates run the various businesses within the jail. And how you have absolutely no contact with the outer world except the visitors who come to see you. He has not mentioned too much about the police and their conduct or their role in letting many prohibited things happen in the jail.
Writing is incoherent. Though the language is good. For example, he mentions today again I did not run. While there is no such account in his previous day. His adaptation to the jail environment seems too easy, too fast and too smooth. By 3rd or 4th day, he had his running gear. And was running for the planned marathon. I think most reflections mentioned in the book are an afterthought, not as they occurred to him in the Jail. At least not in the structured way that it has been presented in.
I expected a more intense read, a more involved first-hand experience, a bit more intimate account. I found it too clinical and distant.
Read the book The Bad Boys of Bokaro Jail to know some facts about Indian Jails that you may not know.