blog 9 uncontrollable wildness

I just sat and listened as my eyes burned with hatred. I wanted to kill every single Afghan in Kabul. In Afghanistan. In the world. I wanted to exterminate them. I wanted to flay them alive and burn them alive and blow them away with cannon and exterminate them off the face of the earth. And I said so. But then I have a vicious temper and when it blew anything could happen.

Lady Sales ignored the violence of my temper but later she pulled me aside and coaxed me to talk. Then it all poured out. My hate. My loathing. My rage. Then Lady Sales gently pressed one hand over my wildly beating heart and softly said “Son. You are so bottled up with violence you are about to explode like a canister of shrapnel on the battlefield killing and maiming everyone, friend and foe, equally and indiscriminately. Unless you can vent your rage and emotions in a productive way they will tear you apart. And you won’t get a job you having been coveting: Political Officer on the Frontier.”

“I doubt we will live long enough for me to suffer pains of regret for my black temper Lady Sales.”

“Don’t you regret you loss of temper this morning?”

“Yes. Of course. I appeared an asshole. Worse. Unprofessional.”

“And doesn’t this bottled up violence trigger these bursts of erratic violence you must regret?”

“I do Lady Sales” I replied. “So I vent my foul demons by letting my black temper explode.”

“And then regret it later?”

“Always but I am, as you say, a canister of shrapnel.” “I almost cried then, ashamed, for she had seen more than a hint of my inner blackness. “When I was only three” I explained, “my mother caught me whirling furiously around the room flicking a handkerchief furiously at some unseen enemy. She slapped me because she thought I was playing on the Sabbath so I explained ‘I was trying to land a blow on the Devil because he wanted me to be bad but if I could get him down I hoped to kill him.’ I was so afraid you see of being bad because my mother was a strict kirk and damnation Christian who preached of fire and brimstone and unforgiving damnation. And I wanted to be good and not go to hell. But I couldn’t be good, not the way Mother wanted, because deep down inside me I was, and am, uncontrollably bad.”

“Bad thoughts?”

“Wild thoughts. Uncontrollably wildness. But in my Mother’s House there was only good and evil, black and white, the Good Book and corruption, God and the Devil, and total obedience or utter damnation. And I never felt like I was on God’s side but rather a recruit of the Devil. And no manner how hard I tried, and how hard she flogged me, and how furiously the minister preached, and how grimly my sister and my brothers glared at me, I felt I could never bottle it up inside me. My black rage. My black wildness. My black temper. My black soul. And I tried. Believe me I tried. I tried to bury it deep down inside and lock it away inside, and hide it from the world, and whitewash the exterior, repeating cloying insipid cant such as only the worse prig could say, lying that I did not do it, blaming it on my sister, claiming it was someone else, something else, who did it. The evil in my Mother’s House. Me. But the only time I could ever feel I was not about to explode was when I howled and screamed and attacked head on and frontal in totally destructive yet purifying violence.”

“Son. Son. Unless you find a way to vent your bottled up emotions you will explode like a steam engine at a boil and the resulting violence will destroy you. What about letters? Could you write to someone? Talk to someone?”

“No. That was never allowed in my family. Nor kissing or caressing or hugging or any show of emotion. We stood at attention. We shook hands. I can’t write letters. I can’t talk. I have not the knack of wit or charm or friendship. It is one of my most regretful failings. The worst of many failings. But there it is. No one likes me. No in school. Not during my girffin days in Calcutta. Not heading north to the Frontier in the Troop Train along the Great Trunk Road. Not in Ghuzni.”

“Perhaps you are just shy, painfully shy.”

“Perhaps I am just a bad person.”

“I think part of the problem is you are painfully shy and that can come off as arrogant John.”

“Or perhaps I am just a bastard which is what everyone thinks I am.”

“Why not try to write in a journal then? A journal is not as personal as letter writing but still can be a way to vent your bottled up thoughts and feelings.”

“Chamberlain said he kept a journal and he said he was a mighty poor letter writer too. He has a widowed mother and a fiery temper too, like me. But he is English of course and upper middle class and the opposite to me in every way.”

“Is this Chamberlain a friend?”

“No. We roomed together for a time. It is not the same thing. I am quite sure he does not even remember my name.”

“Why not try son? A journal I mean…. start at the beginning, and map everything that is bedeviling you. Map it. Then analyze it. Then you can plot a plan to handle it.”

I nodded. And today here I am writing in my journal. The Journal of John Nicholson. But I realize I did not start at the beginning. Not really. Not if I want to map what is bedeviling me. To discover what is really bedeviling me I should look further back to what lurked in the darkness inside my Mother’s House —


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