The Greatest Insult

‘Insult’ isn’t a very hard word to define. In fact, its easy to describe it when you insult; and easier when you get insulted. Formally, insult can be defined as: a rude expression intended to offend or hurt. This rude remark may not be deliberate, but 90% of the times, it is.

For me, insult means something different. Something that is inside you; rather than the effect of a remark made by someone. I define insult as an attack on the ego. And as a direct consequence of this attack, there is anger, humiliation, embarrassment, and restlessness that gets developed. These feelings, many times end up putting a person on a tensioned spring, awaiting to pounce on an opportunity to get back even with the insulter. In short: revenge mode. Apart from the direct effects, insults, especially to kids, mean discouragement, deprivation of hope, a lapse of confidence, and also a big reason for disheartening and dispiriting them.

Instead of delving into the philosophy of an insult or ego, I would present an incident that happened in my school days, but before that, this was how I was at school:

I was a person who gave more importance to knowledge rather than the marks that my report card reflected. The marks or grades that I obtained at school did not affect me at all – be it high or low. When many of my friends (especially girls) wept because they lost 2 marks, I used to laugh at them; I would have lost 10 marks! I used to get irritated and amused at the same time when sometimes my friends (specially girls, again) wept inconsolably for obtaining 98 out of 100! I would be over the clouds with marks like that!

Anyways, coming to the incident that I was going to narrate to you: this happened on the eve of my 10th Standard results. We got our results over the internet on the previous day. I had obtained 90.08%, which is pretty good; though I knew I could have done better. But like I was, it did not matter to me. Next day, I went to the school, all happy and smiling. The first teacher I met was my favorite teacher. She was my English teacher in 9th Standard; the one who had praised me before. I happily told her my result percentage and waited for her to say something. I expected a word of appreciation, or even criticizing me not to have performed even better. But as fate would have it, the greatest insult actually came from my favorite teacher! She said: “You surprised us all, Manoj”. I was dazzled for a moment and blinked at her. The sarcasm in her voice hit me so hard that I still remember the incident. I still don’t understand why she expected me to get lesser marks. I was so involved into what she said, that I don’t remember what I replied to that.

Sometimes, when I look back into all the incidents that had happened in my life, I wonder if I had lived life assuming that everyone around me *liked* me and was comfortable with me. And sometimes, I wonder if I’m still living life that way…

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4 thoughts on “The Greatest Insult

  1. woowooteacup

    What a sharp and insightful description of how an insult makes one feel on the inside. I have often felt like a tensioned spring when I feel insulted and it takes me a couple of days to come back to a steady state.

    You know, I think it was fine for you to be unconcerned with grades. Two of our children fit into school and do well grade-wise. Our third child has a personality that doesn’t fit the system, which means that his grades are not always top of the line. That doesn’t mean he isn’t bright or that he’s not learning; it just means that the school’s measure of achievement doesn’t work for him.

  2. That doesn’t mean he isn’t bright or that he’s not learning; it just means that the school’s measure of achievement doesn’t work for him.

    Yep. That’s so true.

    @Sarina:
    Thanks! 🙂

  3. VENOM

    Very nice description of how insults can be life changing in some cases. However… insults have become pretty much a part and parcel of our lives. Initially used in warfare for intimidating enemies, insults have exponentially risen in their applications. But as you say… the right insult at the wrong time can be catastrophic.

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