An angry yell jolts me out of my afternoon siesta. I wake up, rub my eyes, and look out of the window to see the 80-year old Melinda at it again. My eyes sweep across her gate. So it is the plumber this time that has invoked her wrath. I sigh, and lay down again in my cozy bed to lose some more. But Melinda refuses to get out of my mind. I wonder, why would a woman in her riper years, after having led a fulfilling life, with no apparent worries or wants, still remain so bitter?
I sit up and think about a conversation I had long ago with Melinda, during one of her more pleasant moods. She had talked about many things from her past, all of which involved some slight she had endured by some distant relative, some insult at the hands of an acquaintance, and some things that her siblings ought to have done but had failed to do for her. No matter how I tried to turn the conversation, she kept bringing up memories of instances where she felt she had been victimized. I remember finding it all too exasperating after a point and bringing the conversation to a hasty close. I also remember feeling down the rest of that day, as an effect of hearing two hours full of complaints and an endless string of woes.
Now, as I realize that it is the huge Pandora’s Box of bitter memories that she is still treasuring, yes, treasuring because she holds them all so tight to her heart and refuses to let go, that is spoiling her joy of the present. She has had many good moments in her life. She has done her duty as a mother perfectly, brought up her children in a wonderful manner and given them the best they could wish in life. Her children adore her and take good care of her. She had a loving and heavenly married life and was adored like a queen by her husband till his death after having lived a full life. There is nothing in her life that could have counted as a grave misfortune or a big calamity. Very rarely do people reach their old age with such a light baggage. But instead of enjoying the lightness of mind that should come after having lived a full life, Melinda is bent on holding on to the excess baggage that is actually of no use to her, her bitter memories.
I wonder, what is she going to get from these bitter memories, except for a constant feeling of victimization and a heaviness of heart? I do not know what the circumstances were in which those bitter memories took place. I do not know who was right, she or those who victimized her. But one thing is clear. Whoever it was who gave those bitter memories to Melinda have probably moved on with their life. They have probably even forgotten the whole episode ever since. They are not carrying that baggage anymore. Then why should Melinda alone bear that burden?
Many philosophers, great thinkers implore us to let go of the past. We are asked to ‘travel light and reach the destination safe’ in the journey of life. But something stops people like Melinda from practicing that. I wonder if it is ego. I wish I knew the answer so that I could help her to lead the life of peace, calm and contentment she deserves. Others can hurt us only to the extent we let them hurt us. If only Melinda took a deep breath and forgave them all with a blanket pardon, no conditions attached, her life would take a turn for the better and she would be able to enjoy the rest of her days. If, and it’s a huge if, only her ego lets her.
This was first published in the magazine Infinite Thoughts, March 2013 issue.
This post has been written as part of the A-Z Challenge. Do keep visiting this blog on more gyan on life and my perception of it, all this month.