Today morning, on my way to work, I saw a man venting his rage on a autorickshaw driver. The auto had perhaps scratched the car and he had stalled traffic to abandon his car and thrash the driver. As my auto crawled past his, I saw the car owner punching the auto driver. But the auto driver was repeatedly apologising, even had his hands joined together, as if saying sorry. But the man kept punching him.
I wondered at that point what does one do with rage when the person in front of you accepts his fault and apologises?
I have been on both sides of a similar situtation and in both times I didn’t feel any better. The first time, I was in my car, stationary, and waiting on the side of the road to park. As I turned into my parking slot, I felt a huge bang and didn’t know what happened. People came running and picked up a guy next to my car. I then realised a biker had hit me. He caused a huge dent in my then relatively new car and I was super angry. I got out to give a verbal lashing. I was righteous because I knew I was not wrong (that assumption in retrospect could have been wrong).
But as I got out, I saw his arm bleeding, his bike twisted and he saying ‘Sorry madam, mujhe maloom hai meri galti hain‘. I was stumped and didn’t know where to put all that anger inside me. I just stalked off.
The second time around it was me as the pedestrian. Walking, I have realised, is actually a life-threatening task in Mumbai because more than anything you will die just trying to outshout the horns. One particular bad evening, after having fought with bikers who were climbing onto pavements and then honking for pedestrians to get out of the way, and then fighting with traffic cops, I reached the shop I was heading towards.
Just as I got there, one biker was trying to make his way by honking relentlessly. As in, not-lifting-his-finger-off-the-horn-relentless. With my temper on a tether, I turned around and yelled, ‘Stop honking a$%^&*e‘. And just as my luck would have it, he stopped just in front of my nose and I stopped yelling. He, of course, got worked up and asked me what business did I have abusing random strangers. He immediately went on the offensive and despite my saying sorry, drove off mumbling ‘You frustrated c*^t’.
Then too, with mingled anger and frustration and even some degree of apathy, I stood there wondering what do I with them feelings now?
I felt bad for the rickshawdriver today, though knowing fully well that the chances of his being at fault were high. What is the point of attacking or shouting or giving any radical reaction, if the person apologises?