Forgiving is easy but forgetting is not

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who  trespass against us

                                                                          ~ The Lord’s Prayer

Most people in the world whether believers in religion or not are familiar with this line from the Lord’s Prayer.

In the archaic literary sense, the meaning of the word trespass is sin or offence.

I must have said this prayer, rather mumbled it, through countless school assemblies like many Indian children who have studied in what is loosely termed a “convent school”. Convent schools were started by Missionary orders especially of nuns whose aim was to teach and educate young, native minds. Apart from mere scholastics, they imparted a value based education and equipped many a young person with skills that stood them in good stead all through their lives. While I didn’t attend a convent school, I studied in a similar system – the Anglo Indian School which was largely meant for the Anglo Indian population . We began each day with the compulsory recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, a tradition embraced whole heartedly by Christians and non-Christians alike.

But this post is not about prayer or even schools, it is about forgiving and forgetting.

Many of you must have heard the story of two Buddist monks who came upon a river bank during the course of their journey. While they were deciding how to get to the other side, a pretty, young woman came up to them and asked them to help her get across too. The monks agreed and the three of them crossed the river and made their way on their respective paths. A few hours later, the younger of the monks asked the older monk if he found carrying the young girl a heavy task. The old monk replied that he had carried the girl and forgotten about it while the young man was still carrying the girl in his mind all this while!

This simple story reaffirms the burden of carrying a slight, an offence or guilt. As the days, months and even years go by, it gets harder to forgive so one should forgive instantly and carry on.

But, while I am not quick to take offence, I definitely am no saint and even if I understand the logic and sense in forgiving, I find it hard to execute. And from my observations, the closer one is to a person, the harder it is to forgive. Even though the Gita advises us to be unattached and work without expectation, it is a human failing to expect an effect for every action. Even though one may not consciously expect anything (not even gratitude) when nothing comes by way of reward there is disappointment.

Being brought up on the principle that one should forgive and forget, I find that I may be able to forgive but it is extremely hard for me to forget.

Can you forgive and forget?

Forgiveness is one of the first lessons of childhood. Playing around with others is bound to cause some kind of hurt either physical of mental and the very first time one encounters such an episode, it comes as a shock to one’s fragile ego. We are then urged to say sorry and forget things. To make it easier, there is generally an intercessor in the form of a mother, caretaker or friend who eases the pain and embarrassment. Very often this kiss and make up routine was done most reluctantly just to put an end to the acrimony and name shouting. But did we really feel sorry for what we had done? 
A familiar school girl refrain used to be “Sorry doesn’t make a dead man alive” which is unfortunately true. No matter how deep the regret and penitence, a wrong action can never be righted by a mere sorry. So why then is it so difficult to understand that genuine forgiveness is really quite difficult?


A granny who always sees the humour in life and tries to do things differently. When others make cupcakes, this granny makes banana fritters. When she’s not busy chasing her grandchildren who love making her run around, she indulges in her passions of reading, writing, meeting friends and watching movies. And somewhere between all this she enjoys travelling and cooking!

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