The day I lost my temper

- by Brian Shu Pui Hong
SMK Sungai Maong,
Kuching, Sarawak

The blare of the alarm clock signalled the start of another schoolday. I exerted my weight on my feet and hobbled to the basin for a quick brush-up. My eyelids were still sagging from the intensive burning of the midnight oil the previous night. I breakfasted and set off for school with a much discomposed mind from the lack of sleep and the struggle to cope with my immense workload these days.

The sky had lightened by the time I reached school, its inky blackness taken over by navy blue. With much preoccupation, I wended my way to the classroom. Out of the blue, I was knocked down by a boy running out of nowhere. Kneading my waist and elbow that were now throbbing painfully, I got to my feet and said, "Be careful, man!"

"Have that back to yourself! You were the one who walked into my way first!" he retorted defiantly.

Not knowing what the truth was, I therefore settled for apologising grudgingly. With a triumphant 'humph' which sounded as though he had just overthrown the government, he marched off smugly. I said nothing but shook my head in disapproval and resumed my way.

Two periods went by uneventfully, only more homework to do. During the third period, we were informed that our mathematics teacher, Mr Wong, had come down with flu and was incapable of teaching at the present time. His absence was great news to me as I could seize the chance to catch up on the never-ending homework that had been ‘badgering’ me for days. At least that was my plan before it was squashed by the arrival of Mr Kamal, who was filling in for Mr Wong. Never did I expect him to appear. Being well aware of his peremptory ways with students as well as his personal quirks, the class fell into a dead silence.

For some reasons, I felt a twinge of annoyance in the pit of my stomach. He scribbled some words on the whiteboard, and began to demand the impossible.

“All of you will be writing this essay, and it is to be submitted to me by the end of the period! Start writing now!” He stressed on the five words and went on, “As for those who failed to do so, demerit marks would be given!”

Sullen murmurings filled the classroom almost instantly. Evidently, none of us was satisfied by the suddenness as Mr Wong had already given us assignments to complete. I then stood up and clarified to Mr Kamal. In reply, he accused us of disobedience. Although his reply almost ignited a ‘bomb’ in me, I tried to remain cool.

"But teacher, according to school rules, fill-in teachers..."

"You heard me. Complete your essay. Talk about school rules, do I know less than you?"

"This isn't what I mean. What I mean is..."

"One more word, boy, you might as well prepare to negotiate with the disciplinary teacher,” Mr Kamal interjected and warned me.

His supercilious voice and imperious attitude provoked me so much that what came next made me regret for the rest of my life. I felt as though all my pent-up emotions and stresses were released all at once. My whole nervous system went haywire. I literally transformed into a nuclear bomb. Before I knew it, my mouth was out of control.

“Revise the rules before you come every day, you xxxxx...” I said, as my volume rose in a crescendo. I called him something which made my friend beside me hiss at me.

"Alex! Don’t disgrace yourself!"

Everyone shot a fearful look at me. They knew I had gone too far. Before I came to my senses, the principal was already standing outside the classroom to witness the row. I knew it was all over.

The next moment, the principal began to censure me. I found myself engulfed by fear, as I was dreading my consequences. Although I was remorseful about the whole incident, I still earned myself a great deal of demerit marks and detention. The principal even summoned my parents, whose unmistakable crestfallen looks were really unbearable to me. I had put my parents into shame and I was not proud of myself.

From that moment on, I swore to learn and control my own emotions and avoid being their marionette. It was only then I realised the saying "anger begins in folly, and ends with repentance" always holds the truth. Until now, I still remember the day I lost my temper, to admonish both myself and others to always have our emotions under control.