A Reader in Pain

“The ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ series of erotic novels are the favorite reading material among ‘high-value’ prisoners at the Guantanamo detention camp in Cuba, a U.S. congressman said.”

— Reuters


As I was being force-fed and my heart was doing paradiddles, I decided to recall one of the many climaxes in my beloved “Fifty Shades of Grey.” The novel is a serialization of the repressed sexuality in everyone — especially the CIA agents practicing “enhanced interrogation” on me.

One of the CIA agents has shoulder-length blond hair and porcelain skin, not unlike Anastasia Steele. But it’d be nice if I weren’t the one always tortured.

Whenever I am spared from my torturous schedule, I read “Fifty Shades of Grey.” I recommend the novel to only my favorite prisoner colleagues because I don’t want my beloved paperback to wear and tear like me when sleep deprived.

During one of the many visits to the library, I chatted up the warden in the British English I learned by reading the brilliant prose of E.L. James. Much to my horror, the warden did not consider my favorite erotic work a canonical work of literature.

I thought the warden had found the one effective way to torture me. And effective it was!

The next day after my force-feeding session I confronted the warden with the great verbal equanimity I learned by reading “Fifty Shades of Grey.” The warden said he preferred curling up on his couch with a stimulating work of feminism after a long day of enhanced interrogations.

He introduced me to Mary McCarthy, Virginia Woolf, and much to my despair, Sylvia Plath. Reading “The Bell Jar” made my own predicament look like a picnic, which is surprising because you cannot picnic in a desert, which is where I am from.

My nightmares of being waterboarded and force-fed were replaced by chronic melancholia. If you ask me, I rather prefer to be tortured physically, and then read my beloved “Fifty Shades of Grey,” and then be tortured again. That is the routine I am most at ease with.

I repented for my sin of having been glamoured by the warden’s reading choices. But the warden was friendlier during my force-feeding after I told him I enjoyed “The Feminine Mystique” more than my beloved “Fifty Shades.”

However, having repented for my torturous reading choices, I once again returned to my paperback paramour.

All my gustatory senses rushed back as I stealthily read the book with a furtive glee.

But a week later, I was separated from my beloved once again, because another prisoner colleague requested the novel. Now I clamor for the novel the same way I clamored for water and food when I was a child.

Being unable to read “Fifty Shades of Grey” has left me with more despair than being unable to enjoy due process of the law.

But rest assured — I have my lawyer working on requesting another copy of what will surely go down in history as the greatest novel of the century. That’s the most my lawyer can do at this point, since the rule of of any existing law is clearly irrelevant to my indefinite imprisonment.



Sumeet Singh is a fourth-year English major. He can be reached at sumees1@uci.edu.