This is the first letter I’ve written you since I visited you a few weeks ago. I apologize for writing almost 20 days after I said I would, though I honestly did start this and the previous sentence on November 27th. That visit has given me a lot to think about. I just wish that everyone who thought you were guilty or that anyone who thinks that the death penalty is just could listen to what you told me the day, if they could just feel what you made me feel, I don’t know how anyone could be against you. I’ve tried to tell others, tried to explain what I’m feeling, but they could never understand unless they met you in person. That is why I feel you should write a book or try to collect and store as much of your correspondence as possible. After hearing it, reading your words is the closest to being able to feeling the power of what you said.
The hardest thing for me to hear was not the brutality of the prisoners, or the guards, but the hardship you and your family has had to face, how you still see your family as they were 20 years ago, or how you had to give up the plans you had to marry your fiancé. I was close to crying when I spoke to you then, and I am close to crying now even as I write this. I am glad I was able to see you, because the short visit before wasn’t long enough, especially with all of those people. I think one of the biggest impacts of meeting you has been that it has helped me put my own life in perspective. This week is the week of final exams, and most of my classmates are full of the stress and anxiety that comes with the exams. I think that by putting my life in perspective, you’ve helped me realize that in the long run, 20 years down the road, my life will not be determined by whether I received a 95 on my Precalculus final or not. This is not to say that I am not concerned with my finals or that I don’t study, but it helps me realize that sometimes you have to take a step back from things, and look at them from a fresh perspective. Whatever will happen will happen, so there is no sense worrying about it.
I also wanted to thank you for your poem. It was beautifully written and I’m just happy that Priya and I have had even a fraction of an impact on you as you have had on us. My mom made copies of the pictures we took, and right now it is posted as my facebook profile picture. But even around school, I have become synonymous with you; one of my friends greets me with “Hey Troy”, and another one will, in the middle of a conversation, bring up the name Troy Davis! I guess this is good in a way, because at least it means that people are aware.
I remember that my mom showed me a letter written either to you or about you by someone in Ohio. This person was a 21 year old junior in college, and this letter was written before the stay of execution on September 23rd, and this person kept referring to things like “Troy Davis will be a martyr” and “he will die, but his message will live on”, and things like that. I wondered how this person could not have any faith that things would be ok, how she could assume that it was all over. I never gave up; I don’t know why. I don’t try to delude myself into being naïve or foolish, but for some reason I couldn’t explain, I knew inside me that you weren’t going to die then, and you weren’t going to die in October, and I don’t think the 11th Circuit Court will allow you to be executed either, despite my mom’s reservations. I wish I could have been there at the Oral Arguments, and I regret not being able to come. Unfortunately, my mom was sick and my dad had to work so I couldn’t get transportation, and they told me you would probably not be there, but I still wanted to go. I am glad that you still manage to call us, so that I can occasionally speak to you. I wish that we could visit you more often then just once every 90 days, because I feel that seeing you for 6 hours in 90 days, or an average of 4 minutes a day, is far too little.
I remember talking to Sahil about two weeks ago about religion. He told me that he did not like the Karma system in Buddhism and Hinduism because it was about crime and punishment. He likened it to the U.S. prison system, because it punishes people but doesn’t rehabilitate them. He talked how Hitler, under Karma, would be punished, but that he is a believer of “nurture over nature”, meaning that perhaps under different circumstances Hitler would not have done the things he had done. And I think I have a similar outlook on life. Deep inside, I don’t believe that people are bad. I think that they can do bad things, but had the circumstances been a little different, they would not do the things they had done. Many people would believe me to be naive, but I think that that there is goodness inside every human being and the fundamental core of human nature is good and not evil. I can’t wait to see you again. Only about 60 days!
With best regards and love,
Gautam R. Narula