For a long time, I wore a jade bangle. It was a part of my arm, part of me. It had threads of deep and lighter green, red-browns, and specks of white. In Chinese culture, jade has a particular energy and significance, and the jade bangle is believed to protect the wearer.
I was walking home from work one day when my bangle broke in two places. I didn’t notice it break because largest part of the curve stayed on my wrist. I wondered what it had protected me from – a breakage is supposed to represent an escape, a dodged bullet. I retraced my steps and found the missing piece.
I liked that bangle, even though I detest the word ‘bangle’. Something in that stone – its colour, its weight, our shared warmth, a vibration – it resonated with me. It fit.
So carefully, I glued it back together. I let it set. It broke again, in different places. This time I let it stay that way, until the night before my med school interview. Glueing it together, I superglued my thumb… but that is another story. I wore it. It broke again.
All the time I was doing this it I knew it was a futile exercise. The circle was broken. The milk had been spilt. The nature of the thing had changed.
Some things mend themselves. Fracture a bone and the faultlines heal stronger than they started. Slice your hand open and bit by bit the fabric of your muscle and skin will knit itself together until you barely see the scar.
But some things are just broken. They start off broken, they break before their time, or they were always meant to break. No matter how neatly you glue the handle on the teacup, if the porcelain is truly crazed with faultlines there is no fixing it.
Sometimes the nature of the thing has changed for the better, sometimes for the worse, or not at all.
Some things can be fixed. But some things, some people, relationships, lives – some are so riddled with faultlines they are broken, just broken, always broken. They can mend, but they have to mend themselves.
And that is nobody’s fault.