Stone walls and cold walls..!

A few years ago I had the misfortune of going with a poor young man to several charitable institutions, whose heads were known to me. I asked them for the use of their hall so that this poor gentleman could arrange a wedding reception for his sister.
I had always assumed that these institutions of charity were founded to help the poor and the needy, I learnt otherwise. “He’s dirty,” said one kindly old priest, ‘and his kind will also be as dirty!” “No we can’t reduce the rates,” snarled another, “if we do it for one of them, all of them will want reduced rates!”
“He’ll have to use our panel of caterers,” said a nun over the phone, “and our decorators. “He will be making his own food,” I said. “Oh no sorry, that’s not allowed.,” said the sweet sister. “We get a commission from the caterer!”
And so for today with a heavy heart, a story from a play called Cold Walls, I wrote years ago. The story of Smiley, a convict who was lodged in one of those high security jails. Smiley vowed that if he ever got his freedom, he would turn over a new leaf and become a responsible citizen of his country. “Never,” he vowed, “will I ever go back to crime!”.
And one day he was given that chance. The jailor came and informed him that he had been pardoned and that he was free to leave. “Freedom man,” he thought to himself, “this is what freedom means” and he walked out and into the residential of the city. “What are you doing here?,” asked a rough voice, as Smiley was grabbed by the shoulder. “Just walking,” said Smiley, as he recognised the local cop, and felt the strong arm of the law.
“Then don’t walk over here,” said the policeman, “or I’ll book you for loitering”. A bewildered Smiley left the area, and realising that he was hungry and tired, tried to get a job somewhere. But as soon as people heard he had just been released from prison, they shut their doors. Smiley walked down the street, looking at the closed doors and seeing the warm lights inside the houses, but the walls, stern sentinels, forbade him entrance. Finally, starvation, written all over him, he lay near a park bench, and tried to grab leftovers of a sandwich, that had fallen near him.
“Police!” shouted the owner of the sandwich, and the very same policeman came and struck Smiley on the face. It was just a matter of minutes that Smiley found himself back behind the walls of the prison. The jailor was troubled as he looked at Smiley. “What happened son?” he asked.
“Sir,” said Smiley, “I have returned to stone walls, but it is far better than the cold walls outside!” We build our institutions of charity and shut out the very ones we intended to take in and wonder why they turn to crime..!

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