I can’t remember what P said to me. I couldn’t even remember what it had been a day later.
That said, whatever it was was enough to set me off.
My blood boiled.
He knew that look.
He knew I got angry very easily.
He was bigger than I was and would have given me a beating if he wanted to — yet he fled.
I picked the cutlass and with it felt a rush of power. Without thinking, I swung it in an arc and let it go. P was running towards a group of seated classmates. He must have heard the whistle of the sharp metal because he ducked without looking back.
The cutlass kept going. It would have gone over the students seated on the bench talking. I wish it had but it was not to be.
L stood up.
There was a thunk as the cutlass connected. I knew it had struck bone — the sound was unmistakable. L cried out and bent double. He held his hands to the back of his head.
I stood frozen in time.
L took his hands away. His hair was crimson — wet crimson.
I didn’t move. I stood as in a trance, gazing with a mix of horror and fascination at the back of L’s head as the blood bubbled out under pressure. It was so surreal. After a while I didn’t see red. I saw pink, then purple. I was getting dizzy.
The students around were just as immobile as I was. They stood gaping at the ghastly wound.
He probably would have stood there without any intervention had Senior T not walked by.
‘Jesus Christ!’ he screamed, dropping the books he was holding and rushing over. He pulled L up and placing a hand over the wound, ran with him to the school clinic.
I’ll never forget the sight of blood seeping through Senior T’s fingers…
I’ll never forget the trail of blood they left all the way from labor ground to the clinic…
I’ll never forget the look on people’s faces as they turned to look at me…
I’ll never forget P’s words afterwards:
So you wanted to kill me.
Yes, it was true. At that moment that had been my intention.
L got nearly half his scalp stitched. I’m ashamed to admit I avoided him. I never apologized until two years later when we became friends. He only laughed and told me it was OK.
My case went up to the Head Boy.
I cut grass for three days until my hand was covered with blisters which burst only to have other, even more painful blisters form where they had been. I learned to cut grass with my left hand for the remaining three days until it attained the same state.
I never learned my lesson from the grass-cutting.
I already had from seeing what my unbridled anger could do.
Something I read about Socrates turning to philosophy because he discovered he would have made a good murderer came to me in those moments. I realized just how destructive anger was.
I still get angry but never ever again have I let my anger control me.