I’ve always had this nagging suspicion that to be a man – you have to fight – and enjoy it. Even though I grew up idolizing Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr., I’ve always had the deep rooted sense that unless you fight, fight well, and enjoy it your not a good man. Maybe this comes from the simple fact that I grew up outnumbered, out sized, and pretty much outmatched in every sense physically. I grew up as a scrawny little brown kid whose only real options was to talk, think, or run my way out of a nasty situation in a neighbourhood full of nasty situations. I desperately hated that. Compound that situation with the fact I was a South Asian kid growing up in the late 80s/early 90s in North America – a scrawny kid from an already socially emasculated minority. All this multiplied by the rage and hate at being bullied, marginalized, disrespected, and racially emasculated left me with a desire too express my own masculinity, and a deep respect for those who chose to stand up and fight for their own masculinity and ‘honour’.
I was fortunate enough to have a growth spurt before high school that put me on par with some of the biggest guys then and now. At first this may have seemed a blessing but I found out quickly that years of socialization as the victim left me ill disposed for violence, no matter any physical advantage. Also the effect of having parents who abhorred violence, traumatic childhood experiences of violence, being a minority immigrant from a society where the slightest transgression would get you disappeared by the majority, and finally an empathy for those victimized left me frozen at “inappropriate” times. Because of my inability to “stomach” violence I ended up categorizing myself as a coward, until I finally managed to loosen the psychological binds on myself by drinking. I’ve always known that the keys to aggression and violence have lain just below the surface of my tightly controlled conscience in a seething raging sub-conscience. The few moments this inner self has come out has been liberating, free of thoughts and worries; an exhilarating thrill, a feeling of omnipotence, a place of feeling and desire with no limitations. This weekend I finally and completely submitted to that rage, and it felt good.
I remember most of it still; seeing the similar mix of rage, frustration, and fury in another face; an echo of my own pain and fury; and letting go into it and becoming it. I don’t even remember the initial exchange of fists, my own analytical conscience was as shocked as everyone else’s standing around to record it, by the time I remember anything else, I also remember hands grabbing me, bodies pulling me back and off, screaming and yelling. My own hands were being held, but I could see my hated enemy, any past relations finally and irrevocably forgotten. I understood at that moment I wanted to kill him, and probably would have if I wasn’t stopped. With my arms and hands finally restrained – I did the only thing I could, I kicked with my free feet. I tried to squash the life out of him. They pulled him away and he disappeared under and behind other bodies and my mind came back for a moment and I remember thinking “Jesus I tried to kill him, tell me he’s not dead, wake up-move-don’t be dead.” Then the push of bodies was too much and I was forced into the hall, and then it felt like society trying to hold me down all over again; which was like feeding the fire with its favourite fuel and I blew up again. The rest was passion, fury, power and a joy at using ones body to the fullest and not caring. After 2 stops by police – and finally getting checked and let go without being arrested the second time,I finally cooled down and regained control, left, and met up with rest of the family and relaxed.
It was the next morning when I woke and a couple of days after that I realized what I had done – become, and the consequences of that. I felt guilt for the first real time in my life, I had very much became the type of person I had hated so much. I hadn’t become some sort of warrior saint or even more of a man. What I became was an asshole who endangered friends and family, possibly even severely someone who had been a close friend. A thoughtless brute who completely destroyed a friendship, broke the peace and quiet of a neighbourhood, ruined a perfectly good party, endangered countless futures, scarred bruised and hurt friends, and forced people to risk their families wrath.
And strangely, the shame seems to fade, and the guilt doesn’t ache at all now, I know what I should be feeling, but I don’t.