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The final hug

Malini stepped into the room with a glass of water and placed the rim of the glass to her mother’s lips. She swallowed slowly as even taking a sip of water was agonising. Cancer had ravaged her mother and the struggle was painful to watch, yet Malini remained strangely unmoved.

“Can you forgive me?” asked her mother.

Malini was nonplussed. “Forgive what?” Malini could not help but ask this question, to give time to process what she was feeling. “Forgive me for my helplessness,” her mother said.

Malini’s innards were churning. Her mother’s anger issues had deeply scarred her as a child. There were so many memories of feeling helpless herself. Cowering under the table, as her mother threw things, and running out of the house to escape the abuse. She never imagined it would be her mother confessing to feeling helpless now. Raising four children on a meagre income must have been undeniably hard, but was all that anger an outcome of helplessness?

Malini took a deep breath, years of counselling and training galloped to her rescue as she identified and separated her thoughts from her feelings.

“Can you forgive yourself mother?” “No, Malini, I cannot forgive myself, I know I hurt you terribly,” she broke down sobbing uncontrollably.

Malini looked at her sobbing mother and finally saw through her–an insecure, weak woman behind that angry façade she wore. She took a step forward, reached out and encircled the sobbing, damaged, hurting body. Forgiveness would heal at least one of them.

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