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Life is a constant work-in-progress, making change inevitable - by C.H.

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Life is a work-in-progress. What is one thing you hope to improve and why?


'A' Level student-inmate from institution TM1

Consolation Prize


As a saying goes, “life is a journey, not a destination.” Life is a constant work-in-progress, making change inevitable. When we enter new environments, meet new people or even come face-to-face with danger, we are learning something along the way whether we know it or not. This changes our thinking and sometimes even our values, as we walk the path of journey known as “life”. Ideas, principles, ethics, and values differ amongst individuals and for me, I am staunch when it comes to making a decision which concerns my future and work hard towards that goal. However, we do not live in a picture perfect world and there is always room for improvement, making the journey to our goal a bumpy ride. With this, the one thing I hope to improve on is my temper as it has caused me many opportunities and most importantly, the hurt of my loved ones.


I cannot wrap my fingers around how I developed such a short temper but it started from a young age, when I was in primary school. Growing up in a family with kiths and kins getting top grades for their exams and a handful being doctors, here I was getting into fights, attaining low grades for exams and being defiant to teachers. The title of “Black Sheep” was easily mine to claim. I still can recollect the days in primary school where I would lie to my parents about completing my homework, only for them to receive a call from my teacher at the end of the week of incomplete assignments. Furious, my mother would be waiting at the dining table, with a thin and long bamboo cane in front of her whenever I got back home. I would run around the table, trying my best to escape the torment but it was all useless. Caning became common in my household and it was not a surprise that I would get caned everyday. One day, I could not tolerate it anymore and broke all the canes in my house, though it only led my mother to use a more fearsome weapon, my father’s leather belt.


This started my rebelliousness, gradually I started to scold my mother too and whenever she caned me, I would block or grab as the cane was swung before it reached my butt cheeks. My mother would stop and a triumphant smirk would spread across my face. In secondary school, I would get myself into fights over small issues but was glad that my school gave me many chances, which I can thank my lucky stars for not getting expelled. My temper was bad and no one dared to make me angry. Though it gave me a sense of authority that no one would try to be funny with me, I had no true friends and no one that I can count on. This made joining a secret society most appealing as my “acts of bravado” was lauded and the members made me feel a sense of acceptance.


Fights have grown to become common for me, rioting against rivals and more of it. I felt as if the world was in my hands as whenever anger built up in me, all I needed to do was punch the person or do anything that could cause hurt to the person, feeling satisfied and again a sense of authority, power. The last straw was when I disfigured someone’s nose that landed me where I am today, in prison. Being detained in prison gives me the ample time to reflect on my own actions. This is definitely a bitter pill to swallow and obviously, a difficult one. Because of my anger, I reacted rashly and did not think about the consequences. This consequence that I am currently facing has no doubt made me want to improve my temper and not result to violence should I feel angry or faced with an issue.


I strongly believe that life is a work-in-progress. When we make mistakes, it is only right for us to learn from them and improve as an individual. There will always be naysayers and negativity but we can either choose to ignore it, or entertain it which might be unhealthy for us in the long run and cause us to risk many things such as our future. Even today, I am still learning on how to improve my anger so that upon my release, I will not turn back to my old ways. During this incarceration, I’ve lost my beloved grandmother and was unable to attend her funeral as upon attending, I will be bound by shackles, which made my family come up with the decision that was best not for me to attend the funeral in such a state. I do not wish to go through such an agonizing time again just because of my anger and irrational acts, never wanting history to repeat itself. Hence, it is my temper that I hope to improve on and to practice preaching patience in every situation that I encounter.


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