MACIU Bakani shed his shackles three weeks ago and walked out of prison a free man.
The 26-year-old was reunited with his widowed mother Akanisi Maba, who was ecstatic her eldest son was home in time to spend Christmas and New Year with the family.
This re-union was, however, short-lived when the young man's new-found freedom was dealt a fatal blow on Monday night.
Mr Bakani was found dead by a roadside in Navutu, Lautoka, his death believed to be a result of a drunken brawl.
Speaking from their Balawa home yesterday, Mrs Maba said losing her son was one of the saddest experiences she had to endure.
"I was happy to see my son after he was released. I did not know that the Almighty God had other plans for our family," she said.
"As a mother, I will always love my son regardless of what people think. My son is the eldest and I was depending on him to look after the family after the death of my husband in 2006."
Mrs Maba said her son had just completed painting their house, when his friends visited him on Monday morning.
"Two of his friends visited him and asked him out. I never slept that night (Monday) worrying about him because he told me it was his last party with his friends," she said.
She said her son wanted to change from his past and be a better person.
Police spokeswoman Ana Naisoro said Lautoka police had arrested four men alleged to be connected to the brawl.
"Some men are in police custody and are being questioned over the incident. The matter is still under police investigation," Ms Naisoro said.