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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Owning Your Anger and other stories

Today I felt real, white-hot anger after a long time. I can't remember when the last time I felt like that was -- it had probably been more than a year. The reason I call my anger 'white-hot' is because of how I perceive it. Anger has traditionally been associated with the colour red, but despite my originally explosive temper that I keep gagged and bound, I have never, ever, seen red. When I'm really angry, angry without adulteration by disappointment or sadness, I feel my forehead and the tip of my nose grow hot. I've been told that they turn red, but inside I feel it like a blinding white glow, and you won't believe me when I say that I feel a strange wave of clarity and logic sweep over my thoughts. The irrationality characteristic of anger kicks in only when it comes to translating thought into action. Which is why, when I began to work on my temper, I felt my mental faculties damping. Suddenly, my moral instinct and righteous energy had no outlet, and all of it stewed in my head until they boiled up everything else, eventually resulting in more severe albeit infrequent bursts of anger -- in trying to control my temper, I had transformed from short-tempered to hot-tempered.
It was at the bottom of my anger management curve that I realized that trying to deny myself my anger was not the solution, since the cause of my anger itself was never illogical -- only my consequent actions were. Having realized that, I decided to separate the two. About a year and a half ago, I began to successfully stop myself from acting on my anger without extinguishing the anger itself -- I learnt to think when angry and act when calm. It worked. However, I didn't need the method for long, because soon, ICSE was over and times changed.
Since then, I have transitioned from a Xth Board examinee to a XIIth Board examinee and from SPL of Carmel to Head Girl of Hem Sheela, which in a very short time has uprooted my entire life, taken it for a ride, and planted it somewhere else. In all this time, I was so occupied that I probably forgot to be angry, or to be precise, I never had the time in which my anger could peak, until today.
Today was essentially a very busy day, but unlike most busy days, which I enjoy, today was a disappointing and annoying day as well. To begin with, we (Head Boy Nihal and I) were wantonly disappointed in one of the junior members of our Students' Council. We spent half a class period yelling at the kid and another quarter picking up the pieces of the giant mess he made. To put it lightly, he embarrassed (not to mention disgusted and annoyed) the hell out of us. As if that wasn't enough, I had two different kinds of unpleasant interactions with two different teachers through no fault of mine, no thanks to my uncontrollably 'romantic' (read debaucherous, more on them later) classmates, and to how Indian mothers raise their sons, in reverse chronological order. Also, I had a mildly unsatisfactory Physics Practical test -- mild enough not to bother me, if the rest of the day had behaved, but hell, it didn't. To top it all off, the Council incident made me late for PE -- not only did I lose out on play time, but I also missed my call for the long jump test. They allowed me to take it when I explained, and I beat my personal record, but I believe I could have done better without the preceding 150 metre dash from the main building to our sports complex. My distance was third highest among the girls and somewhere in the top 10 overall, which is much better than anything I've ever done in that test, but I believe I could have made it further.
So, as you see, I had cause to be angry, which my long-sleeping anger took full advantage of, and my method came out of retirement. I allowed myself anger but not action. The white light flooded my head, and I saw it all clearly. The deception, the manipulation, the breach of trust and loyalty, the classroom politics, the moral blame games, the power trips -- all of it opened up like a giant, interactive chart. And then when I calmed down, all the information was right there in front of me, and with Nihal's cooperation as an occasionally vocal sounding board, I chalked out the Council problem. That done, I navigated the others as well, remaining mostly unscathed. I expect some repercussions and hurt feelings come Monday, but hopefully the weekend damper, despite the Saturday Parent-Teacher Meeting un-damper will cushion them. The good news is that this meeting is optional unless a teacher specifically calls in your parents, which is done for academic underachievement and severe discipline issues. So basically, I'm in the clear and tomorrow can be a relatively normal Saturday.
Hopefully, my methods won't be required anytime in the near future. Lessons learnt : self-control of all kinds is worth learning; negative emotions can be channelized for positive effects; and a sounding board is always a good idea as long as it knows what to echo, what to absorb, and when to do a bit of both.

P.S. : The clock tells me it's 1:18 am... so all the todays should be yesterdays and all the tomorrows todays, I guess.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

About the Powers of Nature

Another one outside the Gratitude Series.
=================================
Little One

There goes the little one,
Wearing his crisply creased uniform,
His shoulders heavy with papery knowledge
His head bent, ringed in simple studious glasses,
His hair cropped by parental discipline.

And oh, it starts to rain, but
He doesn't run, he doesn't smile either,
He only lifts up his head;
The rain speckles his glasses
With tiny worlds of rare imagination,
The slush beneath his regulation shoes
Trips up his routine gait and becomes a canvas
For the big spirit inside the little one.
The water plays on his head, messing up in two seconds
Twenty minutes of a doting mother's toil.

A thousand rains later when the little one grows big,
When he makes big money in a big office,
Where the rain is never felt but only seen
Through the big, clear windows that show him
How far above the rest of the world he is,
In his perfectly conformist suit and haircut
That represent the freedom of adulthood
And the formal shoes that he chose to wear
Just like all his colleagues do,
Maybe then, it will rain...

...and perchance he will notice it, and maybe
The big spirit, now dwarfed by the big man
Will awake, and he will lean outside
And let the rain ruin his suit and tie
And his hair so carefully fortified against time;
He will wonder how the slush would feel
Beneath his formal shoes impeccably polished;
He will remove his contact lenses, he will find
His old glasses and hold them out until
The drops of dreams dance on them again;

Wearing them, he will look anew
At the rain-washed world that he'd have learnt
To look down upon and feel bigger than,
And remember how very big that world is
And how he
Is so, so little.
=================================

#11, #12

Congratulations,
Tears of joy, laughter, treats;
And apprehension.

====================================

On festival day
Happy colours jostle with smiles
And desolate greys.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Gratitude 8 : Plumeria Pink

Gratitude 7 has been written and is being saved for a particular occasion. This here is therefore Gratitude 8, a tribute to old companions and the good times spent with them.
==============================================
Plumeria Pink

In our old school of a decade and a fifth
There grew two plumeria trees
With pale trunks
And branches dressed all year in delicate blossoms
And decked with the sounds of our laughter --

One tree mine, blooming innocent white
The other yours, its blossoms
Rebelliously touched with pink
Both with leaves most joyously resplendent 
With the hopes of our youth, and with the joy
Of being home to little creatures -- birds, spiders, caterpillars;

And the fallen blooms
Adorned our childish funerals of dead birds
And the occasional dead squirrel
The souls of which we prayed for as is taught :
But oh, futile teaching of transience! While 
We mourned the woodsy creatures, not once did we doubt
The permanence of our play upon the plumerias' boughs.

Then suddenly one day the trees
Were inches higher than how we knew them
And the two of us, miles farther
Than we ever dreamed we'd be,
Our new schools
On opposite ends of a six-lane expressway, jammed
With honking six-wheeled lorries and six-feet trailers,
Sixty five kilometers of bustling commerce between us.

Sometimes I wonder if, there, you ever see any plumerias
Like the ones we climbed --
Because lining the wall of my new school here
Grow a perfect infantry of their kind;
Confident in the appeal of their white blooms they smile at me and call,
Especially after a morning rain
Or in the afternoons when the bus runs late
They expectantly watch me as I walk over, touch them, smell their fallen flowers;
And when I quietly walk away, they ask me why

And to their utter hurt I tell them
That for all their beauty of blossoms pure and brightly white,
They cannot give me that which I miss
For they bloom white, so white, far too white --
Too confident, too comfortable in white to ever care or ever dare
To wear the slightest blush of pink.
==============================================

All the trees mentioned are real, and the poem contains little bits of some real people as well. I thought of this poem when I saw children in my new school playing beneath the plumerias, not long after I'd made a visit to my old school. In hindsight, my study of Toru Dutt's 'Our Casuarina Tree' in my old school for the ICSE probably influenced my thinking -- it is interesting to note that Dutt's poem mentions yet another poem by an even greater poet -- 'The Yew Trees of Borrowdale' by Wordsworth.
Also, the first time I have varies stanza lengths to such an extent -- so do tell me if it's working.
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