Of Confucius and Stolen Biryani

Apologies - admissions of guilt accompanied by expressions of regret; are a phenomenon that the author of this essay relies heavily on in times of great, self-inflicted duress that can only come from singularly and stupendously risky behaviour, like stealing a genial friend's tiffin that had happened to contain the night before’s takeout biryani. Now, in my defence, this friend and I were engaged in a mutual pact of sorts involving exchanging one's boring homemade dabba for the other's equally boring but somehow more magical dabba, and a disruption in this routine with no predetermination whatsoever amounted to betrayal, at least in my mind. In that sense, was I not the one who was truly wronged in this scenario? How cruel the hand of fate seemed as I rubbed the bruise on my shoulder that reminded me of my friend’s surprising upper body strength. But I digress.

Apologies constitute a language that most of us are fluent in. Well, if one were to actually consider apologies as a separate language, then admittedly most of us know only the basics. The slang. Conversant hodgepodge mixed with some foreign components of Purposeful Misdirection (500 metres to the left lies someone who had nothing to do with the incident but is a convenient scapegoat nonetheless); Blame (because your mercury is perpetually in retrograde) and quite a boatload of Defensiveness (to reiterate: owning up sUuuCKs).

Of course, apologies exist in a hierarchy. There are easy apologies that you don’t mean and don’t really have to mean, much like my apology post the tiffin-biryani incident (oh don’t you daRE judge me. Do not pretend like you've never taken advantage of bromance to bro your way out of problems before). Then there are the hard apologies. Ever realised in the middle of a rather personal and heated argument that you're in the wrong? Ever had that month of regret after making a mean comment that made you lose a friend? Ever yelled at your mom for an unwarranted cause? Yeahhh, how does that cocktail of equal parts ego and honest mistakes taste? Bitter? Hmm. It's supposed to be. Up to you whether you want to swallow it or regurgitate the same mistake.

Unnecessary apologies like that time you said sorry to that pen you dropped; polite apologies like the ones I dish out to the head of this very website's content team every time I duck out of existence for months; apologies that lead nowhere like those action flicks where the hero, with a tilt of the head and a charming "pardon me", pulls the trigger anyway (I see you swooning, Reader-san); apology playlists that one makes to win back a significant other thus adding to Spotify's ungodly arsenal of garishly misspelled heartbreak song compilations (look up "Bronk ❤❤❤", it's a good one) and many more that didn't make to my list of priorities for this paragraph.

Apologies are variable, they come in a million shapes and sizes, much like the people who make and receive them.

Ultimately though, apologies exist to right wrongdoings but have the power to both mend or worsen what is broken. Like Confucius once said, " A Shrek-bandaid prolly won't help a stab to the kidney but also, like, bringing a wheelchair for a paper cut is definitely overkill." So go forth with this dubious wisdom and remember to mind your words, because apologies are but plaster over wounds and whether or not the wound heals well depends on both its own severity, and the quality of the remedy.

Author: Sucheta Mitra

Editor: Shashmita Sanyal

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