Know Thy Enemy.. And Then, Forgive Him
A conversation I had with my father today finally gave me the stimulus to write down something that’s been buzzing around in my head for quite some days now. It’s a little long winded, but I found it interesting, how it all came together.
My father and I, as most of you know, have no relationship at all. Nothing good, anyway. I could write pages and pages describing the things he’s done and continues to do, and I have too, in futile attempts to get it all out of my head, but this isn’t about that, exactly. Earlier today, he was semi lecturing me and my sister about why beauty is a boon, and how his good looks carried him through a lot of his early life, and how he took advantage of that plenty of times, when the conversation took a turn. He suddenly remarked, “Like how I used to teach you that you were ugly right from when you were small. Do you remember those things I would say?”. For a minute, I froze. I was stunned that the apology and realization I’d waited for, for most of my conscious life, was finally happening, and then he continued, “you were very little when I started teaching you. I’m not sure you remember…” I cut in and said acidly that I did, that I was seven, but I did, and he went on,”Well yes, and it’s good that you learnt it right in the beginning, because it’s something you should never forget. Don’t harbor any illusions about yourself. You never had the sort of looks that could get you anywhere in life, and you never will either, I can tell.” I simply interjected, “oh really”, and he kept going in that vein for a while.
It’s been glaringly obvious for a long time now, that the man is sick. That he is truly, mentally ill. Granted, the most dangerous kind because of how cleverly he disguises it, but to the knowing eye, the signs are starkly vivid. And I just sat there, for the rest of the ‘talk’, trying to feel anything for the man except pity- but I couldn’t. Not even anger. Not even the old flaring hate. There was nothing but pity there.
A month or so ago, my mother chances upon this unusual tv play, dubbed in English from Urdu, I believe. The story was rather complicated, something about an independent and innocent girl from an orthodox Muslim family who is engaged to man who’s mother doesn’t like her. Long story short, the night of the wedding she accuses the girl of adultery and creates a huge commotion. The groom doesn’t fall for the hue and cry right away, but in a sense of trying to sort things out, asks both his fiancée and his mother to swear on the Holy Book. The mother hesitates for a split second but does so, and the girl is so stunned by the magnitude of deception from this outwardly pious and god fearing woman, and her family turning against her, that she simply refuses to, and quietly marries the widower her father marries her off to, to cover his shame of having an adulterous daughter. And her ‘shame’ follows her to her new life in the slums, raising four kids who aren’t even hers, married to man twice her age.
Nothing in this story made sense to me, especially since when justice came to her, when the mother was on her death bed after a long struggle with cancer and confessed to her lie, and her family sought her out to seek her forgiveness, by then, she’d lost her life to drudgery. I mean she was alive, with a daughter of her own, and respected for the pious woman she’d become, but.. Where was the justice in that, really? And the lead, her fiancé, asks her to come back, and she refuses, saying that God has shown her the true face of this world- why would she turn away from Him, back to this mire of demented humanity? Because she didnt find the happiness she thought she wanted, but she found contentment where no one could imagine she would.
And later, when her fiancé asked her what she would’ve done if she thought he was the adulterer, if she was in his place, she replied that she wouldn’t try to impart justice- she would forgive him. Because we don’t ask justice for ourselves, we ask forgiveness. We don’t turn to the Lord asking for our just desserts, we ask for His mercy, and His benevolence. And that is what we need to do too- revenge is never sweet, forgiveness is.
I’ll admit to being pretty hammered by that. I don’t know if it was the acting or the dialogue that did the trick, but the message was a bolt of pure energy into my waning consciousness. It probably seems like a huge thing to take away from such a trivial source, but I’ve been seeing the power of forgiveness, the power it gives you, when you stop giving people power over you. Because that’s what hatred is. You don’t give away hatred, you nurse it- but you can give forgiveness away. And I’m not sure, how much of that I’ll be able to follow, but I will try.
Because my life is full of people who didn’t treat me right. Who took advantage of me and my shackles, people who lied and sniped and back stabbed and played with my feelings and my respect, people who knew I didn’t deserve what they did to me, but did it anyway. Because I don’t need to carry them, or the hurt they gave me.
Because I’ve found that I could forgive them for that, without waiting for them to realize or apologize. And I have.
I’ve been struggling with forgiving my father. That’s because of the magnitude of hurt that dwells there, but I’ve been working on that, bit by bit. And bit by bit, I will forgive him, for…. everything.
I guess revenge would have been nice. Seeing justice served might’ve been satisfying too. But the peace I’ve found in forgiving and moving on- the contentment is staggering. These are people and things that dont deserve to be remembered. Forgive, and at least for your own sake, forget.