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I am participating in the 30 Days Letter Challenge where you write one letter each day. The 13th in the list is a letter to ‘Someone you wish could forgive you’ .

Dear Someone I Wish Could Forgive Me,

At the time you were a girl of nine or ten, or perhaps you were eleven or even twelve and malnourishment made you look younger. You worked as a servant girl in our house. I don’t remember what all work you did. Perhaps you washed the dishes, first carrying them outside, and then getting water from the tap some distance away. After all it was the early sixties and the conveniences of today were conspicuous by their absence as also the outcry against child labor.

You must also have done the sweeping and mopping of floors of the small house we lived in, and assisted (or did you do that on your own?) mother in washing clothes, may be in the kitchen too. What would I know? I was only six years old, and went to school, while you slogged for a living. For yourself, as well as for your family. Not that I was aware of it. The realization would come much later. Years and years later.

Sometimes, when you had time between your chores, you played with us, in what was probably the only free time you got. A time meant for you to catch your breath perhaps, but which you, the little girl that you yourself found happier playing with us.

One day, my sibling and I returned from school by lunch time as it was what they call, a half-day. After lunch, I was in a mood to play. I opened the front door and peeped out. There you were, fast asleep on the bare floor of the verandah. I shook you awake and demanded that we have a game. You looked at me bleary-eyed and said,

‘I am feeling sleepy! Not today.’

My siblings were napping next to mother and I was alone and bored. After waiting for some time, I shook you again. This time it took longer to wake you. You didn’t even bother to open your eyes. You waved me away, murmuring that you were tired.

After a few times of this I was pissed off. I found myself a tiny stick and poked you gently, on your arm, legs, back. You twitched your limbs whenever I did that. I found it funny. When the gentle prods didn’t work, I poked you more strongly. I was not going to let you sleep if you wouldn’t play with me. What a meanie I was!

Finally you sat up and I looked at you with a triumphant smile, but recoiled at the naked misery writ large on your face. I was younger than you and perhaps too young to understand a lot of things. But I knew this that I was the reason for the despair I saw on your face. I could only stare back at you dumbly. Then as unobtrusively as I could, I walked back into the house with a heart that suddenly seemed too heavy in my chest.

All these years, I have been carrying that utterly miserable face of yours inside me, with a lot of guilt. How could I wake you up and demand that you amuse me when you were so dead tired? After all you were a kid yourself. In my defense all I can say is I was one too, though that does not absolve me. In my mind I have asked your forgiveness a million times. Today after 49 years, I do so once more, Please forgive me.

Your tormentor of one afternoon.

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Those who are taking part in the 30 Day letter Challenge, please don’t forget to add your links to the linky over at Hrishikesh‘s page.

©Shail Mohan 2014