Learning to Forgive A Memoir by Learning To Forgive

They used to live in my grandmother’s neighbourhood. A big, poor family of eight children. After the eighth child was born, the husband and wife were constantly quarrelling –the husband hadn’t wanted another child, it just meant another stomach to feed and another body to clothe. The wife didn’t mind. God has given us another child, she said, we should be grateful.. But that only angered the husband more. One evening, after weeks of yelling and slamming doors, the couple began to argue again. The wife was making chapattis in the kitchen and the husband stood, defiant, in the doorway. The argument got heated. The wife turned off the cooker, turned to her husband, and ordered him to get out. She had had enough of his ridiculous behaviour and at this rate, she was better off without him. Her actions infuriated him and he flew across the kitchen, grabbing the first knife he could get his hands on. He turned to his wife, having no idea what he was about to do, when his young 21-year-old son threw himself in front of his mother. The knife sliced through his chest, instead. Their son died.

The husband and wife stopped talking after that. A dark, painful cloud showered over their home. The wife moved away with her broken heart, saying she couldn’t bear to spend the rest of her life with such a man. The husband, drowning in his grief and distress, blamed his wife. If they hadn’t had that eighth child maybe what happened would never have happened.

Several years passed. The separation and the story behind it became fairly familiar amongst the people of the neighbourhood. The couples’ disconnected paths brought on painful sighs and hushed whispers from the women, with pitying, teary gazes.. They would blame the husband, cursing him for the tragic death he had caused.

Time went by like it always does. Years turned into decades. Eyes emptied of tears. Raw wrinkles decorated faces. The harsh silence continued tangling itself around lives and minds. Then, one day, a few of the elder villagers got together. They were worried about the old couple. They should forgive each other, one man said. How can they go on living like this, it must be terribly agonizing for both of them, another said. What about rights and death, someone else put in.

***

After the waves of shock and horror and utter disbelief wore off after hearing my mother relate this story, I thought about forgiveness. How do you forgive something like that? Or do you not forgive at all? Or maybe deep down you do forgive but just can’t come to terms with it? I’ve heard people say that only God forgives, humans are not capable of showing such mercy. At first those words didn’t make much sense but then I later realized that in some situations it was true. Maybe we don’t really know how to forgive.

When we stand before the Almighty, hands stretched out towards the heavens, our eyes squeezed shut as we beg for forgiveness, what do we ask for? What kind of forgiveness do we ask for? We want a complete blank sheet, don’t we? We want another chance. We want our mountains of crimes to be erased, right? We want Him to accept our repentance and let us start again. We don’t want to be reminded of it, or be taunted about it later on, or have it come back to haunt us. We want our sins to be forgiven here and veiled on that day.

Society teaches us to forgive, but never forget. Is that possible? When we say we’ve forgiven another but then continue to remind them of their actions once in a while. Maybe in anger or maybe just to tease or make them feel hurt. That’s not the forgiveness we want for ourselves. What’s that called?


   
  • SumaiyahKhan

    wow, masha Allah. And so true. If we want to be forgiven completely, we shoudl firgive others…and my mom tells me stories of friends and family like that all the time..:(

  • B

    What a painfully, sad story. I think you’re right about how people find it difficult to forgive each other. I suppose the human mind remembers these things forever- things that appear to be unforgivable. In this case, it’s not for us to judge who is wrong, although it’s clear to see.
    I was just wondering if the husband got put in jail for manslaughter?

    • Ruqaiyya Maryam

      I honestly don’t know. Its a very old story my mother told us when the topic of forgiveness came up one day. Such stories are usually not very detailed as they’re based around the main topic. 

  • http://azizooooo.blogspot.com Aziza

    That is quite a sad story. It’s difficult to imagine humans acting so brutally towards one another even though it happens quite often. There is indeed a lesson to be learned here in forgiveness even when it seems impossible to forgive. This brings to my mind the fact that Allah has forgiven even murderers….so what’s our excuse?

  • Anonymous

    You had tears welling in my eyes, and not much on the Internet makes me cry. Masha Allah…

    • SumaiyahKhan

      Mine too! masha Allah.

  • Ammarahmaryam

    such a heart-rending story (cries)

    • Anon

      i agree

  • http://www.muslimyouthmusings.com/ Arif Kabir

    What I really loved about this piece was that it does not really give a conclusive answer at the end; it took thought-provoking to another level. Keep it up! :)

  • http://www.muslimyouthmusings.com/ Maryam

    SubhanAllah, really like the way you write mashaAllah.

    I read a quote earlier from a dear friends blog which I remembered while i read your beautiful piece; cause its all that matters: “Forgive all who have offended you, not for them but for yourself. Forgiveness is the economy of the heart, it saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits. When you forgive, you in no way change the past, but you do sure change the future.”

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