Readers of Daily (w)rite, if you’re here, please welcome Anouradha Bakshi, my friend, philosopher and touchstone for more than a decade.
She runs Project WHY, a little non-profit with a large heart, in New Delhi.
For this whole week, she’s taking over Daily (w)rite.
Please give her all the love and attention you usually give me, because she merits it far more than I ever will.
Forgiveness is something we all deal with in our own way. As as an only child, I grew up bearing a lot of grudges and finding it difficult to ‘forgive’. It was only years later that I realised that the forgiveness that came my way was drenched in love, primarily the love of my parents. I was so easily forgiven because I was loved beyond reason.
Life brought its set of challenges, and the only-child idiosyncrasies were soon laid to rest. For years I battled with forgiveness and found myself wallowing in self-pity and hurt. Little did I realise that I was the cause of all this pain to myself and I was the only one who could set myself free.
One of the turning points was when after the death of my parents I was virtually stabbed in the back by the very ones I trusted most, and what made it more painful was that they were people for whom my parents had done so much. I had counted on their support, but they turned their back on me. I was angry and hurt but discovered that the only way forward was to forgive them, hold on to the good times and walk away. I had to free myself and free them too.
Today when I look back at my life, I cannot remember when and how the equation changed. I must admit that it did not happen overnight but was a long process of understanding who I am and of learning to love myself.
It was a journey inward. I began looking at every experience, even the most hurtful ones, as moments that would teach me something about myself. I learnt to be grateful for each of them.
Here are the lessons I learnt on forgiveness:
- Forgiveness is about loving yourself and the other, unconditionally.
- Where you can, try and build back the bridges. In some cases, you have to walk away, but do it free of grudge or hurt.
- It is the hardest to forgive those who hurt someone you love deeply. Even if someone has hurt your partner or your child, you have to be able to forgive them.
- Not forgiving condemns you to living in the past.
- Not forgiving vitiates your today, and your morrows. It hurts only you.
- Forgiveness ushers in love.
Thanks to finding forgiveness in my heart, I have been able to steer my personal life on an even keel and also create Project Why, my magnum opus and swan song.
I realise today that I could not have seeded Project Why had I still been carrying grudges and hurt. When you do that, you are unable to see with your heart. This non-profit is only about seeing with your heart, and it has helped thousands of women and children in the past nineteen years of its existence.
From the petty official to the ungrateful parent; from the vicious detractor to the cynical well-wisher, each had the ability to trigger anger or hurt and cloud my judgement during the Project WHY journey. The simple ability to forgive and move on was enough. In some cases, they even became Project WHY’s staunchest supporters.
All I can say from the six and a half decades of my life, and in the two decades of running Project WHY: Learn to FORGIVE. It is the biggest gift you can give yourself.
Who would you like to forgive? What is stopping you? Have you forgiven others in your life? Have you ever been forgiven?
Anouradha Bakshi is the descendant of an indentured labour and a freedom fighter, and the daughter of a senior diplomat. She travelled the world before settling in India.
A professor in French, an interpreter and a conference organiser, she found her true calling when she set up Project WHY in the year 2000.
She is a wife, and a mother not only to her two girls, but also to the scores of children whose dreams she holds in custody.
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