If you cannot forgive, what can you do? Do you have a choice? You may choose not to deal with the person. Avoid all communications. Use harsh words on the person as a means to return back the pain you once received. Become destructive in relationships, and a person with a strong complaining attitude. The list goes on.
OR, you may choose never to talk on the subject anymore, making the pain eat you up in a slow poison manner, ultimately leading towards to help develop terminal diseases like cancer.
It is our choice whether we want to be in prison or get out of it.
Sowing the Seed of Expectation Becomes the Cause of Emotional Pain
Anika’s father was her favorite. She knew that he was her world. All her indulgences were only taken care of by her father.
It was at her age of 12 when one night Anika’s father did not return from his office. Least she knew that he would not be returning for an indefinite period of time. Only her mother came to tell her “Anika please go to bed. You have got to go to school tomorrow. Your father must have got stuck with some work.” After waiting for a while, she went off to sleep.
Unable To Accept the ‘No’ To What We Think As a Reality
The next morning, she heard her mother saying softly to her grandparents, “He will not come back, and he has asked us not to ask the reason.”
Hearing this, Anika was frozen for a while. She went to bed without questioning anything to anyone – ‘he doesn’t love me or else he would have never left suddenly’ was her only feeling with agony. Her mother thought, “She is too young to accept this reality, so it’s better to conceal this fact from her now.” The consolation from her mother was “your father will return soon”. This became an unbearable reality for Anika.
Seeds of ‘Neglect’ Starts Germinating In the Subconscious Mind
Time flew and unswervingly settled the emotional gripes in the subconscious mind. Father used to make telephone calls at times, but Anika was not his same child as before. Her reply was almost like saying “it’s okay. There’s no need for such conversation”. There was a doubt about the whole episode of love for Anika.
Her father came back home after five years. Grandparents, uncle, her mother, all showed him a welcome. Anika, now a grown-up girl, exhibited her unwillingness to forgive and with a thorn of neglect in her voice.
Guilt Quietly Crept In and Lied Down Unnoticed
From childhood, Anika was brought up under the environment of spiritual learning in her house. Hence, as waves of painful thoughts came surging up, a dominant inner voice kept pleading for forgiveness.
“You need to forgive everything” was the only remedy that Anika could ponder on. However, the painful thoughts seized the heart so much that there was hardly room for any reconciliation with those thoughts.
Help from the Unknown Was Extended
Whenever Anika saw her father in front of her she was unable to forget the past incidents. One day, her cousin, Payel came to visit them. She was somewhat a seeker for the in-depth meaning of life. Anika felt a beam of sunlight in her mind’s darkroom. She outpoured all her emotions to Payel. It leads to a therapeutic conversation for which Anika remained highly indebted to Payel.
A Therapeutic Conversation
Payel: Why are you holding onto your past? Don’t you want to find a way to remove the pain you are going through?
Anika: I want to. But whenever I see my father, I can’t forget what he did to my family. I really love him. How could he leave without any notice? I am in pain since he departed. I know I need to forgive and I really want to pay heed to it.
Payel: What exactly you know about forgiveness?
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Anika: Not so much exactly. But I read many books on the sayings on forgiveness and that it is the only healing of human beings.
Payel: You are engrossed in your pain. It’s getting difficult for you to grasp the exact meaning of forgiveness.
It is the only way to help ourselves – to let go and to forgive. Don’t hate the criminal for his sins. You, yourself be afraid to commit the sins if you are aware of the sins.
In this case, you can’t forgive your father for his mistakes, but don’t you think that he is your teacher in disguise? Think deeply! Isn’t he teaching you to be free from your own expectations and think beyond?
Do you want him to be the way you want to? You said you loved him. You were too young to think much then, but now you think, if you love him then don’t you want to understand the real meaning of love? Isn’t it that love should be selfless and not a selfish way? When you are benevolent then forgiveness happens naturally. I read in a quote by the author Bryant H Mcgill, which said, “There is no love without forgiveness and there is no forgiveness without love”.
Anika felt an awakening from her inside. She kept quiet and listened carefully. The silence helped her to get intimate with her inner self.
Here’s why forgiveness is strength – a personal account
Payel: You think! You may not agree with me, but you give a thought, as you told me that your heart is in pain and so you want to act according to our inner guidance.
Anika thought to herself, “I am consumed by my own desire. I want him to do the things according to my wish from my childhood as it always satisfied me, and I revolted when he said ‘no’”
“I am suffering because of my desire and not for my father. I need to break through my shell and think from other’s perspectives too.”
Payel’s words kept ringing like a bell inside her – “Don’t you think that your father is a teacher in disguise?”
After Effects of the Wrong Seeds Sown
The mind started to become confident with the new lease of life. However, within fifteen days after Payel left, Anika developed an acute backache. Her irritations grew wilder. With pain all over the body, she was unable to handle both her emotional and physical annoyances.
Being a Spectator of a Natural Act of Forgiveness
When Anika’s mother and father got married it was without the approval of her maternal grandmother. As the grandmother was unable to forgive her daughter, her gestures and attitudes were unlike the virtues of a parent.
On an occasion during a visit to her maternal grandmother’s house with her mother, Anika noticed some actions of her mother, which moved her conscience.
Anika noticed something about her mother……which she did not before. Despite being treated in a bitter manner by her grandmother, Anika’s mother’s attitude was much like that of worshipping.
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Her grandmother’s favorite dish was payesh (kheer). But she was diabetic. Anika went to the kitchen to see what her mother was doing. The following conversation was important to Anika:
Anika: “What are you preparing mother?”
Mother: “I am preparing payesh (kheer) for your grandma”.
(Anika saw her mother to add palm jaggery in place of sugar. Anika was very curious.)
Anika: “Why are you adding palm jaggery and not sugar?”
Mother: “Because of her diabetic condition she is restricted from having sugar, but she so loves to have sweet dishes and so I’m preparing the dish with palm jaggery which a diabetic patient can have.”
Anika was moved, “My mother has such a heart! How easily she could let go of her painful emotions. Only to revive her lost days.” Her mother prepared the dish and served it to her grandmother. The role she played was a devotee’s offering!
Anika’s mother to her grandmother: “Mother! This is without sugar. I made it with palm jiggery”.
It was a true offering. Grandma’s face lit up. She took the dish and kept it on the table beside her and was quiet for a while. Her voice choked with tears of joy and she uttered, “Come let’s have this together.” Anika felt something magical to happen in those few moments. She could hear the soft and emotional voice of her grandma while having the dessert. Anika had a glimpse of transformation of her grandma. She was awe stricken.
What had been impossible for her to execute was clearly demonstrated by her mother. After Anika and her mother returned to their home, Anika asked her mother, “Mother! I had seen that you feel so hurt every time whenever grandma speaks to you. But with what emotions you remain so yielding to her? He mother’s reply – “She is my mother after all. I am in this world for her.”
A sense of gratitude started arising in Anika. Her mother’s grateful words kept on reverberating in her. Her actions were so touching!
Bringing out Our True Virtue is Indeed an Experience of Bliss
Anika started reasoning with her inner core. ‘I’m also my father’s daughter. And now I need to do my part”.
She closed her eyes and contemplated how she could redo her manners and actions towards her father. She visualized to start the journey again – went back to her father’s first day of his return home. The painful emotions started arising. She paused for a while and then gave an effort for rectification of all her behavior. She started to see herself to be filial in all her actions and attitude.
After opening her eyes, there was a great relief! She then realized why her mother kept on pursuing her filial actions towards her grandma. Actually her mother knew the principle of letting go. This practice was the secret of her confidence, being humble and lovable. It was this mindset which kept her going in life in spite of much suffering in her heart.
A Confirmation of the Inner Thought
After few days Anika was reading a book left by her cousin, where her eyes got stuck in a sentence which said, “We all see suffering all around us. Yet it takes the insight of a Buddha to go to the root cause of human suffering and identify it as desire.”- Quote by Debashish Chatterjee in his book Leading Consciously.
A Decision to Ask For Forgiveness
Anika apologized to her father and whispered to him “Is it possible for you to forgive me for all my disrespectful attitude towards you?” Her father, feeling as if coming out of prison, hugged her as if to say, ‘I’m sorry for not being with you when you needed me most.’ After that, a long discussion followed between them. Anika very humbly told her father, “There must have been some reason for you to be away from the home, so don’t be upset.”
Here’s why forgiveness is strength – a personal account
Anika looked up into the sky and felt this life to be a gift from God. Life gives us an opportunity to renew our hearts. The incidents in our lives are meaningful indeed, without which we will not be able to reflect on our Ego mind. She realized the real meaning of forgiveness. It was not actually that she could not forgive her father, rather it’s repentance for not being able to connect to her inner self to bring out the very essence of life.
The story is based on a personal account, but the real name has not been used upon consent of the narrator.