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  • Andrews Amrithraj

“If only I had time …”

A few months ago I watched the Indian movie Mukti Bhawan (Salvation House); it’s a film about Daya who checks in at Mukti Bhawan with a strong belief that dying in Kashi (Varanasi) he would attain Kashi Labh - the fruit of kasha (moksh/salvation). Apparently the movie can be quite depressing, gloomy, and morbid. But if we are able to go beyond what eyes see, we will realize that the movie is about life, values, and relationships (father and son, father and daughter, grandfather and granddaughter), and the eventual reconciliation that takes place. It is a journey about transformation of life when one lives by a priority of values.

It was a coincidence that soon after the movie I watched an interview with Bhairav Nath Shukla, the Manager of Mukti Bhawan for 44 years in which he shared 12 Life Lessons from the 12000 deaths that he has witnessed as the manager of Mukti Bhawan. The very first lesson that he highlights is: “Resolve all conflicts before you go.” He then narrates the story of Shri Ram Sagar Mishr (a Sanskrit scholar) the eldest of six brothers and he was the closest to his younger brother. Unfortunately, an incident between the two brothers led to a fallout between them and to a construction of a wall to partition the house. Nearing his end, Mishr checked into Mukti Bhawan, certain that he would pass away within sixteen days of his arrival. On the 14th day he said, “Could you please ask my estranged brother of 40 years to come see me. This bitterness makes my heart heavy. I am anxious to resolve every conflict.”

When the younger brother arrived on the 16th day Mishr held his hand and asked to bring down the wall dividing the house and then he asked his brother for forgiveness. Both brothers wept and mid-sentence, Mishr stopped speaking. His face became calm and he was gone in a moment. Shukla who has seen this story unfolding in many forms says, “People carry so much baggage unnecessarily all through their life, only wanting to drop it at the very end of their journey. The trick lies not in having conflicts but in resolving them as soon as one can.”

We all get hurt and we hurt one another. No one is free from hurts. As a result of hurts, we suffer. People, consciously or unconsciously have hurt and continue to hurt us. The insensitive words and actions of people who are close to us leave deep resentments in us. Children-parents, spouses, friends, in-laws, employer-employees, teacher-students… inflict unfathomable hurt and pain on each other. All of us have been hurt (and continue to hurt) but only the degree and the intensity of pain and hurt differ. If hurt is not properly handled, resentments take deep root in us. These deep rooted resentments are not like the lines drawn on the beach that are erased by the passing waves of the ocean, but they are like lines carved on solid rocks. They are too deep to be erased by the passing waves. The deeper these resentments are, the more harm they will cause to our bodies and minds. The saddest part is we allow these lines to be drawn too deep. I am sure, all of us will be aware, either in our own families, or extended families, or families of people known to us where members have been at loggerheads with each other for years and have not spoken to one another for ages. Should we wait for 40 plus years to erase our resentments? At least Mishr had time to make up with his brother before he passed away. How many will be fortunate enough to have time at our disposal to embrace a parent (s), a brother, a sister, a spouse, a child, a friend… to say, “please forgive me?”

Let us hearken to the words of St. Peter when he says, “… do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil (Eph 4:26-27).” And in Luke Jesus warns us, “I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left (Lk 17:34).” If God calls me today will I be ready to leave this world knowing that I am at peace with everyone? Isn’t it so sad to hear people at a funeral or after the death of someone say, “If only I had expressed to her that I am sorry, if only I had come in time to hear him say that he has forgiven me, if only I had given her an embrace of peace and reconciliation, if only I had time to make up with her, if only I had come when he wanted to see me, … Time will not wait for us. Why do we have to live in a wishful world? Do not postpone it tomorrow what ought to be done today. The unknown tomorrow may never be a reality in our life. Now is the time:

  • to pick up your phone and tell the person whom you have hurt that you are sorry.

  • to sent an email/card that you have forgiven the person who has been asking your forgiveness.

  • to embrace the person with whom you have not been in talking terms due to past hurt (s).

  • to be ‘an instrument of God’s peace.’

  • to always remember that life is not going to be without conflicts but the secret to happy life is to take an initiative to resolve conflicts as soon as they arise.

When we become instruments of God’s peace we are not weak but indeed we become truly spiritual.

Nothing is impossible with God’s grace.

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