A husband's murderous journey to hell and back 06 January, 2010
Changed man...prisoner Aseri Talai talks to Officer in Charge at the Suva Prison, Sakiusa Veiwili
ASERI Talai was put away for life when he was convicted for the brutal murder of his wife. Many people wonder what goes through the mind of a person who commits such an act.
Talai, 43, said he was filled with anger and all the goodness was sucked out of him. It happened at Lautoka in 1998. He stabbed his wife to death and, ever since then, he has been branded a monster.
It's that stigma that carved a hole inside him during his incarceration at Naboro Prison. Talai says he regrets that dreadful day and, every day in his concrete cell, he prays to God to turn back the hands of time.
Twelve years have passed since then and Talai is a changed man. He received a certificate for the most-improved prisoner in the southern division at the Fiji Prison and Correctional Service annual graduation at the Civic Centre.
Prison officers, their families and even inmates lined the foyer of the lower auditorium to receive their prizes.
This is part of the new initiative -- the Yellow Ribbon -- taken by the Prisons Service to rehabilitate and eliminate the stigma on convicted men and women.
Talai grew up in Raiwai before he moved to Lautoka. He said he had never even stolen anything in his life, and then he killed his wife.
His first few weeks in prison were empty, he recalls. As the weeks turned into months, he became obsessed with drugs, nude magazine pictures and other contraband in order to forget about his past.
But no matter how much he tried to hide from it, his life was still empty. Talai said smoking marijuana made him hallucinate a lot but in his mental darkness, there was a persistent little voice in his head.
On September 21, 1999, Talai said he finally listen to that little voice. "I could not fight this feeling anymore. I ripped away those nude pictures plastered on the walls of my cell, gave all my smoke and other possessions away. I put my life in God's hands," he said.
Talai said he never socialised much with anyone in prison because he was ashamed. "It's a different story today, I am standing here talking to you," he said.
"I was not like that before. I learnt to accept that I would have to live with my sin for the rest of my life. I also learnt that I could not just sit in this cell and wait to die. I know God has a purpose for me.".
But his time in prison has not all been in vain. He has learnt to be a mechanic, a farmer and now a sound engineer. Talai became a person the guards could rely on to help the distressed, young and first-time offenders.
He said he was ready to meet to the outside world again. "I want to go home, I haven't seen home for a long time.
"I believe I am much stronger than what I use to be. I have a piece of land which I aim to cultivate and live a life as a farmer," he said.
Talai said it would only take him five years before he could start earning enough money to buy his own home.
"I also want to do church work and spread the word of God. Maybe I can help people understand life better by talking about my experience," he said.