My dear Pari,
This happened when I was a little girl, around 6 years of age.
One fine afternoon while playing around the wide steps that lead to the school amphitheatre, I inadvertently pulled my best friend, Aditi’s hand a little too roughly. With her attention away from me and she least expecting this movement, she tumbled down the steps and hurt her elbows and knees badly with a mild abrasion on her forehead.
For a 6-year-old, this was a major injury. In no time we had the attention of all our friends and staff. The staff was limited because it all happened in the after school hours. Aditi was taken to our school’s infirmary where she was given first aid and her parents were called for.
During this chaos, I was standing beside her holding her hand, but uttering nothing.
In my mind, the thought looming large was the possible scolding the teachers and Aditi’s parents would give me because of the mishap.
Those dreadful thoughts were dancing like demons in my little mind and the fear I felt was so overwhelming, that until today, I can visualize the happenings of the day simply by closing my eyes.
After Aditi was given first aid and she stopped crying, the first question our principal and the nurse at the infirmary asked was, how did it all happen?
I was almost trembling with fear, sweating profusely and completely shaken by the fact that I had been careless enough to have hurt my best friend so badly.
Despite my sincere concern for my best friend, I narrated the sequence of events omitting the part that it was my pull that had caused the injuries.
When my friends were questioned, they were not sure how Aditi had fallen because we were all running in all directions at that time and a lot of our friends were hiding away from where we stood.
At that point, Adit looked at me with a piercing gaze. The look was filled with mixed emotions of pain and anger. I knew, in the next few moments Aditi would utter my name and my game would be up.
Aditi never did that.
She said she couldn’t remember what caused her to tumble every time she was asked so, even by her parents. Her injuries weren’t severe and after a leave of two days, she returned to school with a number of bandages.
Even though it was Aditi who was injured, the pain was felt by my guilty conscience. All day and night during her absence from school, I kept praying for forgiveness and her speedy recovery. But still didn’t have the courage, to be honest, enough to own up my mistake.
The day Aditi got back to school, I rushed to her, but she clearly ignored me. My attempts at asking her about her well-being met a cold stare but no smile or replies. However, she was warm and chirpy with everyone else.
I waited for some time to find a private moment with her when I apologized for everything. She kept looking straight at my face but said nothing.
Even at that tender age, Aditi had the maturity of letting me learn the bitter lesson of honesty on my own.
She refused to speak to me.
She didn’t consider me worthy of her wrath or of being punished by telling my name to the teachers or her parents.
“A lie will easily get you out of a scrape, and yet, strangely and beautifully, rapture possesses you when you have taken the scrape and left out the lie.” ~ Charles Edward Montague
Our friendship had met a dead-end. The guilt it left me with, was so strong that even today I can feel a bad taste rise in my mouth. The tincture of time healed Aditi’s wounds soon but the jab my broken friendship left on my heart was there to stay and bleed. The cold, steely look in her eyes, every time our paths crossed, jolted me from the inside.
Around six months later, during our games period, I abruptly decided to walk up to our class teacher and own up that it was me who was responsible for what happened with Aditi. Without wasting a single moment to reconsider my new-found resolve, I had a word with my class teacher.
Mrs Sachdev ( our class teacher) didn’t scold me. Instead, she simply asked me, why after so long had I chosen to speak the truth. To this day, I believe that my teacher’s calm and understanding approach that day played a major role in helping me understand and analyze all that happened between Aditi and me on a fateful day and on the many days that followed.
Mrs Sachdev very calmly helped me see, how easy it was to speak the truth and save ourselves from the massive damages dishonesty causes. The worst had been that I had lost my best friend forever. Mrs Sachdev took the initiative to help me reconcile with Aditi telling her that I had realized my mistake and was remorseful about all that happened.
Though Aditi was gracious enough to forgive me, our severed friendship never revived. Years rolled past, but this incident has stayed with me in all its vividness like it happened just yesterday, inspiring me to remember the importance of being honest at every occasion in life. Having conquered the fear of ‘what might happen if I speak the truth’ is the biggest accomplishment in life that ensures I sleep sound with a clear conscience every night.
“We tell lies when we are afraid… afraid of what we don’t know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger.” ~Tad Williams
Today, by sharing this story very close to my heart, I wish to tell you, dear, that no matter how strong be the temptation to be dishonest, the fear of being reprimanded, stand up tall, to be honest, to be accountable for all you are responsible for. It might be the beginning of a difficult road, but it will pave way for a happy ending eventually.
With loads of love and blessings,
The song on my mind: Yaaron ~ Rockford
To read all letters to my daughter head here
* Name changed to protect identity.