I've always been a great believer in confessions: maybe all those stories of Hindu mythology where repentance equalled a spiritual and karmic cleansing, coupled with my convent education, have super-glued it to my sub-conscious.
When I was a teenager and did things or thought of things that I was too embarrassed or afraid to tell my mum, I confessed to my diary, spelling it out frankly, sometimes hoping that mum would pick the diary up, and read it, and I would be absolved of all guilt. That she was fiercely adamant about giving me my own privacy, is a different matter.
Marrying into a Jain family, and living with Jain in-laws (I live in a joint family: you do know that right?!), I've come to value the ritual of Michami Dukkadam immensely. On the eighth day of Paryushan, the Jain festival of fasting, on Samvatsari, Jains wish one another, big and small, with a firmly clasped Namaste and a body posture bent at the spine, asking for forgiveness, for hurt caused through thoughts and deeds, knowingly and unknowingly committed. One day when you must ask for forgiveness even from your enemies. It's a gratifying scene to witness grandparents bowing to grandchildren, young children bowing to their friends. There is no age for the asking of forgiveness, no gender, no economical or social status.
My sincerest Michami Dukkadam yesterday went to Nino:
For those first five days when I made him feel unwanted, unwelcome and insecure. For my lack of patience; for my inability to understand that his boisterous ways are not as much a lack of discipline as it is in his nature; for exposing him to the complications of adult relations and for taking it for granted that he does not understand the undercurrents of tensions. For my inabilities, for my excesses, for my demons, for my errors and for my tears: Michami Dukkadam, dearest son.
Amma always said bending makes you stronger: and yet I failed to bow yesterday and respond to Nino's Dad's greetings of forgiveness: there were too many currents flowing within me and the froth of the churning waves refused to let me surface and reciprocate, perhaps because I knew the gesture was only ritualistic. And yet, it deserved a reply, because I too have much to be apologetic for, my whip-lash of a tongue being predominant. It is not easy to live with someone who is a fierce critic: I've seen it too close to not know how damaging words can be.
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