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Chapters 10 & 11
Malcolm, along with Shorty gets 8-10 years imprisonment. Rudy escapes somehow from Boston. Malcolm was only 21 when he was sentenced to prison. He was sent to the Charleston State prison. The prison conditions were appalling. Each prisoner was given a cell. There was only a bowl for toilet. As a result, the entire row of cells had a terrible stench of feces. Malcolm spent the first few weeks cursing the officials and God. Every official including the social worker was received with curses. While he was alone he walked up and down the cell shouting curses to God. Due to his anti-religious attitude the guards and the convicts began calling him 'Satan'.
Gradually he began bribing the guards to get cigarettes and reefers for him. Ella had given him some money when she came to visit him in the prison. Every prisoner was expected to do some work in the prison workshop. It is here that Malcolm meets Bimbi, an elderly black convict. He was very learned and wise. Whenever he began to speak on a subject, both the prisoners and guards liked to hear him. Bimbi could speak on any subject because he used to read extensively. He was a regular visitor to the prison Library. During one of the regular gathering where Bimbi was talking about religion Malcolm began arguing with him. However, he found Bimbi's explanation for religion so convincing that he had to give in and that stopped his curses against God.
In spite of their differences Bimbi seemed to like young Malcolm. When he learned that Malcolm was a high school drop out, he advised him to take one of the correspondence courses offered by the prison. His sister Hilda, who kept in touch with through letters, suggested that he take a course in English. He had totally forgotten how to write in English. His handwriting in the letters sent to his siblings was totally illegible.
In 1948, Malcolm was transferred to the Concord prison. Here, he received a letter from Philbert (his elder brother) stating that they had been converted into the 'natural religion' of black man. Malcolm sent him a reply using foul language. Malcolm is too ashamed to even recall the contents of his letter to Philbert. Reginald sent a letter instructing him not to eat meat or smoke cigarettes and he would come to the prison to tell him a way to get out of prison. Malcolm follows his beloved brother's instructions since he thinks that Reginald had hit upon an idea to hood wink the guards and prison officials. And the idea had something to do with abstaining from meat and cigarettes.
Meanwhile his sister Ella was working steadily to have Malcolm shifted to the Norfolk, Massachusetts prison colony-which was an experimental rehabilitation jail. In late 1948, he was shifted to Norfolk prison colony. The prison was an experimental colony, where prisoners were given more freedom. It did not have traditional cells. Each prisoner had a room for himself. There was a lot of fresh air for them to breathe in, within the compound walls of the prison. The visiting rules were also far more lenient. Visitors could come almost everyday and they were allowed to meet their relatives or friends for two hours. The prisoners had a choice of sitting alongside the visitor or facing each other.
The prison colony also had one a fine library. Books had been donated by a millionaire called Parkhurst. Parkhurst's chief interests were history and religion. Therefore, there were many good books on both subjects. The prisoners could also take part in intellectual activities like debates and discussions, which were conducted by visiting instructors from Harvard, Boston University and other educational institutions in the area.