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Urvashi Goel, Hindustan Times
November 29, 2012
If somebody asks me which is the greater virtue-to forgive or to forget-I'd tick the latter.


When I take upon the role of the forgiver, I put self on a higher pedestal and expect to be asked for pardon. No only will it put misplaced arrogance in me but also I will have to assure myself that I alone am the one who is hurt. I would like to avoid this, having known that to err is every human.

Even after forgiving, I might look tolerant and at peace on the outside, even though I might be simmering underneath. Will it then not be better for me to cultivate the habit of forgetting? It was a lesson I took from one of my students.

I was taking lunch with other teachers in the staff room when Pankaj, who was in my good books and the favourite of even colleagues, came running. I sensed it might be serious and that I should attend to him. "Ma'am, Sunil has abused and hit me," said the boy, his face pulled in pain. Sunil was the typical bad boy of the class. After the recess, I called both and told Sunil to apologise to Pankaj, which he did but I noticed that he was still gnashing his teeth within.

On the other hand, Pankaj was not only beaming, as if he had scored some brownie points, but also puffed up with a sense of pride apparent from his body language.

After this incident, they remained estranged for the rest of the session. After a week or so, I noticed that another very good student had his lips swollen. On being asked, he said the wound was two-day-old, from a playtime fight during which a boy had punched him. "You should have reported to me," I said. "Madam, it would have escalated the issue, and I thought it proper to forget. Now we are good friends again," he replied with serenity on his face. A few days later, when I saw them breaking bread together, I was thrilled, and convinced also that if to forgive is a virtue, to forget is a greater quality.

The writer can be reached at urvashitarun@gmail.com