01 Apr 2018 19:30 IST

Sometimes, you have to simply let go

Only then will the hurt stop simmering and let go of you

Everybody goes through emotional turbulence for a variety of reasons, some arising from the natural course of life, and others triggered by people and events both within and without our control. The consequences, however, follow automatically, making no distinction between what we may consider fair and just, and what to us seems otherwise.

The consequence falls in line with Newton’s Third Law to the ‘t’ and for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. Only, this reaction is not out of choice, like Gandhari who decided to cover her eyes because her husband, Dhritarashtra, was blind. Nor is it imbued with consciousness, like Lady Justice who is depicted wearing a blindfold as a sign of impartiality. It is merely cause and effect.

In other words, things things happen for which there appears to be no reason or logic. They just happen, and there’s nothing you can do about it or the sequence of events and emotions it sets off. It’s a domino effect that will cease only when the last tile has fallen to the ground.

Sides to a tale

Yet, this is not the whole story because there are always other sides to stories — several sides. Indeed, as many sides as there are storytellers. Each one tells it that bit differently.

It’s the same with relationships. Ten people watch the same scene and 10 people see it differently. They interpret it differently. They recount it differently. Which means it isn’t simply 10 versions but 10 times the seeing, the interpretation, the recounting, the further retelling, and so on and so forth. All this is entirely outside our control. Or, at any rate, it can be controlled only up to a point.

What we can control, however, is ourselves.

Thanks to the various ways of seeing, understanding, relaying and so on, each one assimilates experiences in a special, unique way. Sometimes we say this is right, that’s wrong. But really, when you think about it, who’s to say who or what is right and who or what is right? Everything depends upon a whole host of other things. No wonder dispensing justice is so difficult. Open and shut cases are a relief. But cases involving emotions and relationships are never open and shut, they are never easy to judge. In fact, in such cases, you are often counseled not to be judgmental!

What we can control

So, to come back to the point, what we can attempt to control, is ourselves.

I know all this sounds terribly vague, abstract, and maybe even unnecessarily philosophical, perhaps even pseudo-philosophical. So, let’s take an example from history, let’s take the assassination of former prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, at Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, on May 21, 1991. No matter which part of the political spectrum you are hooked on to, you will see it as a great tragedy. When it was made public that his daughter, Priyanka, had visited one of the conspirators in prison, the news created a sensation. Nalini had been awarded capital punishment; this was later commuted to life imprisonment after Sonia Gandhi sought clemency for her in light of the fact that Nalini had a young daughter.

In an April 15, 2008 report, PTI quoted Priyanka as saying: “It is true that I met Nalini Sriharan in Vellore central jail on March 19, 2008. It was my way of coming to peace with the violence and loss that I have experienced… I do not believe in anger, hatred and violence and I refuse to allow these things to overpower my life.”

A more recent report, dated September 9, 2016, that appeared in The Hindu gave more details of the meeting: “When Priyanka first arrived at the Vellore prison in 2008 to meet Nalini, the latter apparently was in a state of disbelief... Priyanka reportedly asked Nalini, ‘My father was a good person. He was very soft. Why did you do this? Whatever was the reason, it could have been resolved with dialogue.’ Immediately after that, Priyanka broke into tears, and so did Nalini.”

The choices we make

On January 23, 1999, missionary Graham Staines and his two little sons, were burned alive in a village near Bhubaneswar by zealots. His wife, Gladys and their daughter, who had not been at the village church that night, went on record to say they forgave the killers, and would wait for the law to take its course.

There are many such instances of forgiveness from around the world, both in legend and in reality. You don’t have to be a ‘big’ person to forgive, be a Nelson Mandela or a Mahatma Gandhi, for instance, or even a Priyanka Vadra or Gladys Staines. Anyone can forgive.

Anyone can forgive anything. But it’s not easy. Forgiving your father’s killer is as difficult as forgiving an uncaring brother. Forgiving the murders of your babies, or those who drop bombs on innocents, is as difficult as parents forgiving a child who has abandoned them. Pain cannot be measured against each other: pain hurts equally and badly. Sometimes the need for expressing forgiveness emanates from words spoken in bitterness and anger, or less extreme actions that result in someone suffering. Even so, carrying bitterness and anger in the heart is sometimes a bigger burden and more painful. Letting go is the only way, as Priyanka and Gladys have shown.

The instinct is to give back as good as you get, to cause as much hurt as you have been made to feel. That’s natural, and it’s not wrong to feel this way. But if you want to overcome that feeling of helplessness and get on with your life, it makes sense to try and be the better person. Learn to forgive. Pluck up the courage to say it’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten. It means you want to move on. This is definitely in your control.

Still, why does it sometimes feel as though forgiveness is the coward’s way out?