This anger

“You’re so angry these days,” cries our daughter, shaking her head. I admit, I raised my voice on the third attempt at asking her to sort out the washing while I cooked dinner. “What’s wrong with you?” she puffs, thumping through in a mood.

Just then, a whole decade flashes before my eyes. I recall what sweet, polite children they were back then, before they started school, cooperating so beautifully.

But then those were different times. We still had my grandmother, then in her nineties, near at hand, still so active, insistent on coming over to spend time with us. My parents, too, would visit more often to offer us some respite.

A decade shot past just like that. It’s a decade since we had building work, adding an extension to the back of the house to give us a bit more room. Already, it’s looking shabby. Much like me, I suppose. Gone the smiley man of the early years raising these kids so optimistically.

It’s funny that they now castigate me for being so angry, for I was thinking the same thing about them. Gone the gentleness and mutual respect. Their parents are there to be mocked and abused, and yelled at for asking them to have a shower or do minor chores.

They are completely oblivious to their appearance from a dividing cell just a decade and a half ago. They do not recall how totally dependent on us they were just ten years ago, or even five. No, but all of a sudden they’re in open rebellion, railing against us. So of course we find ourselves looking forward, counting down the years to maturity.

I regret my rising temper, borne of the frustration at being repeatedly ignored or disrespected. This anger certainly isn’t the way believers are called to, who instead are meant to restrain themselves. “Be slow to anger,” demand the scriptures.

In part we can blame the summer heat and sleep deprivation. In part, I blame my return to treatment — I did warn my wife that this would happen. In part I might blame the stresses of life. But perhaps in the end none is a legitimate excuse. Perhaps I just need to work harder on my ego, to curtail these base instincts.

A new day dawns. Perhaps today will be different, if the Most Merciful wills. But then I write this while the house is still at peace. Our two little ones are still fast asleep. But in an hour, the house will be alive with their rancor, winding each other up, fighting and bickering, and shouting at mum. And inevitably we we will fail all over again.

Every day is a test. Perhaps one day we will remember this, and make the change. One day, I hope, we’ll learn to restrain this anger.

Hurry towards your Lord’s forgiveness and a Garden as wide as the heavens and earth prepared for the righteous, who give both in prosperity and adversity, who restrain their anger and pardon people — God loves those who do good.

Quran 3:133-4

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