Kintsugi : the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver. As a philosophy, it means embracing the flawed or imperfect.
I had read this story once.
[There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.
Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.
The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.”]
I had found it very moving having seen this evolution in myself personally; though at the cost of some scars. I had developed this bad temper during my adolescent years. Maybe it was the hormones or the lack of education and understanding or a mix of both. But it resulted in passing on my tantrums to others; mostly my mother and my sister, who had loved me dearly all my life and I was certain that they won’t ever retaliate back about it. And the reasons used to be very flimsy; sometimes for non acceptance of my choice, say of a TV to be bought or simply the hot humid weather; they varied with given time and space. But mostly it was to do with my narrow understanding of authority/ego someway or other, as I remember it.
Interestingly, if you google ‘Anger’, the first post that pops up explains it as one of the basic human emotions as elemental as happiness, sadness, anxiety or disgust; necessary for human SURVIVAL. Guess I had honed it calculatingly for my ego satisfaction in a sustainable fashion, when I had chosen my mother and sister as the receivers. But it all changed one particular afternoon and I think I should share this here.
It was summer of 2006; I had appeared for tenth board exams a couple of months back and was awaiting the result. We had gone out for some reason that I don’t remember; me, Didi(elder sister) and Maa. It was a particularly hot day and the high humidity was making it all worse for me. But the trip was short and we returned back home early; maybe it was one of didi‘s doctors appointments. I entered my room only to find the broken Air conditioner; the trigger that I needed for my fit of anger to come out. Hence started the slamming of doors, followed by raising of voices complaining anything and everything that was wrong with my family. A few more slamming of doors and a few kicks to the sofa later I found myself confronted by my didi.
“Why are you shouting? What are you acting like this!?”
And my rage reached its peak as I simply pushed her aside to slam a few more doors accompanied by a few more bellowed sentences.
‘Thud…’ My mother came running from the kitchen welling.
“What have you done? Oh, God! Reeka, are you alright?”
Only then did I realize that my push was hard enough to make her fall over her wrist and crack it. I stood numb there seeing all this commotion as my mother lifted her up and took her to the hospital.
They came back some thirty odd minutes later. My sister had plastered her right hand. I was still in a state of shock to accept the severity of my actions. A few minutes later I found her sitting in the living room by the aquarium. I went and sat next to her. A few seconds of shame later I said, “Didi, I’m sorry”, as my words whispered by the end, weighed down by the shame. She turned towards me and held my hand in hers and gave me a peck on my cheek.
“I love you,” she said.
No advice, no warning, no deliberation: nothing. A simple “I love you”, in exchange for her fractured wrist.
I’m not sure what I felt in those few minutes and what changes it brought to me. The weather continued to be the same; the decisions in house continued to be taken in the same fashion; the family continued to be members of four; but what changed was the absence of temper that I used to experience. I don’t recall ever getting angry after that.
I was lucky enough to have them; my family who kept on giving me chances. Not everyone is…
“Thank you Didi for embracing this flawed individual.”
Hope this chapter of my past helps you avoid your fits of flow of anger on your near and dear ones. Stay healthy and spread happiness. Love.