The fragrance of forgiveness

The fragrance of forgiveness

Being happy and being in love is not a default, to-be-taken-for-granted state within us. It has to be constantly nurtured by the phenomenon called ‘forgiveness’', writes Navaratna Laxman


A few days back a very close family friend of ours dropped in quite unexpectedly in the morning. He looked visibly disturbed and his moist eyes spoke volumes of his deep feeling of remorse for something he had done impulsively at home. Having known him pretty well for over five decades, we were used to this familiar scenario. Wiping his tears he narrated the sequence of the bitter fight he had had with his wife. This time it was over her choice of viewing her favourite TV serials versus his insistence on watching a cricket match.

Being highly volatile of temper, he had allowed his tongue to go all out hurting his wife immensely, that too after the celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary only a month ago. He was now sitting before us, tears flowing in profusion, immersed in a sea of remorse.

“I have so deeply hurt her with my cruel words that I do not have the courage to face her now,” he lamented. As expected, our phone rang and it was the all too familiar voice of his wife. “Tell that foolish friend of yours that his favourite vegetable bhath is ready and ask him to come home if he still remembers he has a home.” The magic of forgiveness instantly lit his face. Amazingly, with each occurrence of such turbulent incidents, the increasing intensity of repentance seemed to bring them closer by the year. I am sure this kind of emotion-filled drama is commonly witnessed in many of our households. Yes, this is life.

Being happy and being in love is not a default, to-be-taken-for-granted state within us. It has to be constantly nurtured by the phenomenon called ‘forgiveness’.

The chemistry of this phenomenon was divinely brought out by my father’s closest friend Rajaji, when I had gone to Madras with my newly-wed wife Shanta in 1962 to seek his blessings. Welcoming us with avuncular affection, the illustrious statesman showed us an unimaginably enchanting picture of a male bird wiping the tears of its female mate with its tiny foot, its open beak displaying an unmistakable expression of compassion.

Presenting this rare gift to us after getting it neatly packed, he said: “Don’t ever forget, dear children, you are now at the two ends of an invisible holy chord tied to your necks. You have to move in unison under all circumstances, wading through the most unexpected vicissitudes of life. If any one of you plays rough it will hurt both of you equally, for the simple reason that you are now one soul in two bodies. Never fight over petty things and even if you do, smother it with the loving stream of forgiveness and never allow a toxic element like ego to affect your bond. Also remember — sometimes there may not be a chance to make amends.”

Unforgettable pearls of wisdom indeed. As things turned out, I had the misfortune of witnessing, in the course of my life, a tragic incident reminding me of the wise man’s last sentence. Not long ago, another couple, also very close to us, generally calm and not easily given to frequent discord, was involved in an unusually bitter altercation following which the wife, in a fit of rage, took the next bus to Mangaluru to go to her brother’s house. 

Soon realising the extent of hurt he had impetuously caused to her, this friend, overcome with deep regret, decided to call her seeking her pardon, but fate had willed differently depriving him of a chance to make amends — she died in a road accident after her bus plunged in the ghat section of Sakleshpur.


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