I was a child when I took Tariq’s life, in age, mentality and emotional maturity. Overwhelmed by all of the events leading up to my encounter with Tariq I felt numb immediately after taking his life. I wasn’t equipped to process about myself, my life or the life that I had just taken so the numbness felt more like a survival instinct then slow drift into oblivion. I was aware. I knew what was taking place but the numbness keep me from having to face the gravity of my actions. Only peers, all juveniles and members of the gang. allowed me the pressures to do any self assessment, as well as, providing the distraction I needed to maintain that numbness.
The regret didn’t come until after I was arrested. Not because of my loss of freedom, which I’m sure everybody who ends up in jail feels but jail (juvenile hall at that time) isolated me from my peers and those distractions that helped to feed my numbness. Inside the walls of the juvenile center that numbness began to slowly fade; the space (at times in a single man cell) and solitude of incarceration, although restrictive, allowed me the room, emotionally to examine myself in some small why and what I had done. I had taken a life and in the process I had hurt a lot of people, people that I loved and cared about and people that never deserved that pain.
A few days after being arrested and placed in juvenile hall I was asleep in my cell and in the middle of the night a guy that worked there opened my door and asked me why I had killed Tariq. I only vaguely remembered this happening later and thought I had dreamt it. Almost a year later while talking to a staff member that had only worked my unit a handful of times he, the staffer, asked me if I remembered him. I didn’t. He told me that he knew Tariq and had went to school with him.
“When I heard you were in this unit” he told me “I asked to get overtime here.” I didn’t know where this conversation was heading.
“I opened the door to your cell and asked you why did you kill him? Do you remember what you told me?” he asked.
I started to recall the dream-like encounter but I shook my head no.
“You woke up out of your sleep and told me that you didn’t mean too and I believed that.”
I think that what I told that staffer in the middle of the night, after being awaken and asked that question, is the truest thing said about that tragic night. I didn’t go out with the intention to hurt Tariq let alone kill him. It’s difficult to understand from the outside looking-in; it wasn’t easy to make sense of for myself. I was confused in that moment, my decision making felt like and slow-moving while the world around me sped up I was present and removed at the same time. When the command to pull the trigger came it was heard but in away that I was unfamiliar with and the response happen before I could process it. The sound of the shot is what woke my mind to my reality but it didn’t bring with it clarity only the acknowledgement of what I’d done; I’d killed a man.
I don’t like to say that “I didn’t mean/want to pull the trigger” because I don’t want it to seem like I’m trying to absolve myself of the responsibility of what I’d done or paint it as an accident when I alone supplied the pressure to the trigger that fired the gun. It wasn’t something that I thought through in the moment, my intentions at that time would not be weighed against my actions because the loss was to great.