The tinderbox

I don’t know why people just want to forget things. The wrongs that have happened to them, I mean. If it were me, I’d want to fight back. To claw out and hurt the criminal who wronged me. To hurt him as much as he’d hurt me. An eye for an eye. Revenge. If he raped me, I want him to feel what it feels like to be raped. To be torn apart from inside out, physically and emotionally. If he hit my wife or my sister or my daughter or my son, I would want him to feel what it feels like to be hit and battered. To have a black eye, and to wear make up to cover it. To wet their bed in the night and cut themselves open in the morning to cope with it. To walk around as though everything was the sunny side up, when in truth, their innards have been wrenched apart and thrown out on the floor to be trodden on by strangers gawking at it.

If it were me, I would want everyone who hurt my loved ones, to suffer as much as they did or more. I want them to cry out into the dawn, until they had no more tears left. I want them to hate themselves, so much that they think it was their fault that everything bad in the world happened to them. I would want them to feel that they are the monsters that my loved ones see them to be. I want them to be punished.

But the world doesn’t work like that. This is the life on this side of the TV screen where superheroes don’t suddenly appear to save the day and villains rarely end up being caught. You don’t know who is who. There’s no black and white. Only many, many shades of grey all around you, like a kaleidoscope of ugly, faceless monsters, twirling around you, mocking at you for failing to do something right. So how do you name these many shades of grey? How do you point a finger at the man walking on the road, and say “he raped me”? How do you point at the boy who has been emotionally and physically abusing you for so long, and say that “he is hurting me”? How do you face a killer and say “you killed me” without breaking and falling apart yourself? How do you accuse someone of wronging you, when you know that by doing so, you are losing the little you have of your self? The little that you managed to save of yourself, the broken shreds of glass that you so tenderly picked up, dusted and put away in a small box to be kept safe? The box which you know if opened, would only allow fresh wounds to break open over the old ones that took years to heal, to mend and forget? The wounds that are now a part of you that make you wonder if you would have ever truly been you had you not been wounded. How do you stand up after a tornado pushes you to the ground and tries to smother you?

You don’t. You shrug it off. You put it away, locked it away in a tinderbox somewhere. You put it away so that you nor anyone else can ever find it. By putting those memories away, you get over it. It’s how you cope. Forgetting things… Children sometimes forget to do their homework. It’s how they try to get away from the problem at hand, by forgetting it and hoping it never crops up again.

I know it’s difficult. I couldn’t possibly start to understand what you went through, or what it took you to get over it. I don’t want you to forget. I know you’ve been hurt. And you would hate me for trying to wrench out the band-aid you’ve so delicately used to seal the wound shut.

But please, please don’t forget. Remember that by forgetting, you are letting the monsters get away. You are letting the bad guys win. Remember how those days, when we were young and we used to watch cartoons, and we’d point at the robber and scream at the police, “He went in through that door! Grab him! Don’t let him get away!”

Let’s go back to being that. Let’s point at the criminal and say, “That’s him. He ruined my life!” Put a name on him. Tell everyone that he’s the reason behind your suffering and pain. Don’t let him get away with it. He must not be allowed to do that to you or anyone ever again. No one else should suffer what you went through. This is not revenge. This is justice. Justice against the people who walk freely while you had to cover in daylight. This is justice for yourself. I know it won’t be easy. It will be difficult. A tinderbox has nothing in it except ashes from burnt memories.

But they are your memories.

Memories that you need to bring out, to make a little right, in this world of so many wrongs.


3 thoughts on “The tinderbox

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