Years ago in my youth, I had an experience which bugged me and stayed with me for years. I was 19 and just arrived back in New Zealand, after spending some time in Australia. After doing first year varsity courses at Massey University, i decided not to go to a second year, but go ka’a in Australia. Got back home and it was good to see mum and my younger bother. Dad was out of town at the time, so i expected to come home to just mum and the bro. I got home and found that my uncle had been staying at home for a few weeks. Uncle was the drifting type, he would stay with my other uncles and aunts for periods of time before moving on. I’m sure you all have the drifting relative, semi annoying because they tend to free load without contributing to the household expenses…
Walking though the door, i was welcomed with the “hey!”, my immediate thoughts were “ugh.. um what are you doing here???”, externally it was “Hey Uncle, great to see you…”. I smelt some alchohol also, which irked me a little. i was tired so dropped my gears and bailed straight to the sofa (as you do). After settling in, my brother was quick to report Uncle’s doings and what he wasn’t doing etc, and how it was annoying to have him at home. The folks apparently had tried to coax him into going flatting but this wasn’t successful. He was trying to hang around as long as possible. I had only just walked in and i wasn’t really in the mood to be making any judgements about Uncle’s situation.
I was talking to my brother, when i noticed that Mum and Uncle were starting to raise their voices in the kitchen. Uncle has only got in just before i did, he had been drinking at the local bar. Initially, i wasnt overhearing them, but the conversation was such that while listening to the bro, i was trying to figure out what was being said in the kitchen. It started to worry me, so i jumped up so i could see what was happening..As i was making my way to them, i heard Mum scream, it’s a scream that i will remember until i am gone from this earth…
I got to the kitchen to find Mum on the ground, Uncle had punched her, my brother rushed in also and comforted her.. i yelled “you fucken bastard” and rushed and tackled him. It was all on, we were fighting furiously. I pushed him out the door and were both outside, my brother ran out also and we were both kicking and punching him as hard as we could. Two on one, but we didn’t care, he was going to feel our anger for a long time to come.. It was violent and it was bloody, my brother dropped off the fight, and went back to Mum.. i didn’t stop and had absolutely no intention of doing so, Uncle was going to feel my fury..
I was tired, from punching him, but i didn’t stop.. i could hear Mum crying and pleading.. “Son, that’s enough, it’s over, please stop”.. I was done.. By this time, the whole neighbourhood had pretty much gathered, and watching from the section boundary wasn’t enough, they had come right up the driveway. Some of the immediate neighbours improvised and climbed on their garage roofs to get a better view of the action. The police had arrived and cuffed Uncle, i watched him being driven away and thinking, what the hell just happened, it was all surreal.. I felt anger and sadness at the same time. Millions of thoughts were racing through my mind about what had just unfolded..
The night was spent comforting Mum and we were all in a state of shock of what happened..
The police called.. asking if someone was going to pick up Uncle.. i said i would. I drove to the Police Station and had him released.. had all his stuff in the car too. He said sorry in the car, but that was too late for me. I didn’t say a word, instead i was thinking that he’s lucky i haven’t knocked him out again.. I stopped at the local bus depot, and said “don’t ever come back”…
Dad arrived home the next day, asking where his brother was.. I said “Well… something happened….”
It would be 2 years before Uncle would be in our midst again, at a family gathering. Everyone in the family knew what had gone down so there an atmosphere of some trepidation.. was something going to happen?? I literally stayed at one end of the venue. I didn’t want mine and Uncle’s path to ever cross again. I hated him still. My mother had long forgiven Uncle and i watched her go to him and they had a conversation. Everything was back to normal it seems for them. It wasn’t for me as far i was concerned. Mum said to me, “Ia fa’amagalo ma fa’agalo ga mea ua leva ga pasi” (forgive and forget). I shook my head, no way!
The family gathering came and went without myself an Uncle talking. Family opinion seemed to be divided equally as to the rights and/or wrongs of my stance.. I didn’t care really. I felt totally comfortable with my stance..
Another family gathering 2 years later, and i hadn’t changed an iota. Mum came to me and asked if i could stop being stubborn, she was over it and i should be too. I’m thinking ummm “stubborn?” i’m just being “right” and nothing else. After chilling out for some time, i relaxed and realised.. maybe it’s time to end this.. it was time to end this 4 year grudge.. it wasn’t plain sailing but.. we managed to have a conversation… I guess all was forgiven, but there would be no way i can ever forget this..
Have you ever had a long standing grudge? How long is it before a grudge goes from “justified” to just being plain stubborn?