I was moving through the bustling streets of Mumbai, India at the Colaba Markets. As exotic as that sounds, I was no stranger to these streets.
My parents who were born and raised in India had often taken us on trips there to visit family but I was back there this time after a long time.
The streets were lined with vendors selling all sorts of wares when a little girl stopped me and asked if I wanted a bracelet made of flowers. I love flowers and this particular bracelet appeared to be made from the most fragrant jasmine flowers I had ever smelled.
I agreed, and watched her tie her little creation around my wrist. Of course, I was going to pay her for her craft but when I asked her how much she wanted, she refused to take money and instead wanted rice.
Being in the middle of the market I didn’t have a clue where I was going to get rice from but the girl protested, “Please, rice”, she said.
This of course tugged at my heart strings, the poor girl is making these beautiful bracelets and in return all she wants is rice, I thought.
So I reached into my wallet and was just about to hand her 500 rupees (about $7.50 US) until my Uncle, who was born and raised in India, approached and asked me how much I was giving her.
“500 I replied”. The look on his face was one of absolute shock.
Apparently 500 rupees is an extremely generous, almost obscene amount of money to give in a situation like this and because the girl was asking for rice instead of cash, it was most likely that she was working for someone who she had to give the money to.
In the blink of an eye however, the girl had taken the 500 rupees from my hand and bolted. Of course, during this entire transaction there was a crowd forming around us and all of a sudden I was swarmed with other people trying to sell me their wares.
Little children, old people, men, women, people selling I don’t even know what huddled around me, reaching out their hands, asking for money.
I ran back to the car followed by a huge crowd of people. They swarmed the car, but eventually backed away when we pulled out.
Needless to say in this moment I felt terrible.
- I had ruined the market trip for my family as we had to leave early.
- This poor girl was probably chased for the 500 rupees, or worse, had to give it to some older adult who may use it for alcohol/drugs etc, and she will never get her rice.
My mind was swimming with guilt and negative possibilities of what would have happened to this poor girl holding such an amount of money on the streets.
I really wanted to believe that she took that money home to her family and it fed them rice for a month, but the more I spoke to locals, the more I began to understand that was probably not the case.
Although I tried to remain hopeful about the situation, it ate away at me until it became a distant memory.
Flash forward nearly a year later and I was having a restless sleep. I often thought about the little girl in the market that day, but didn’t really think much of it- nothing I could do about it now, I would say.
But this particular night I kept seeing flashes of her in my dreams and the street scene played over and over again in my mind. I then heard a voice- “You need to forgive yourself for this.”
In that moment I felt a wave of forgiveness and acceptance wash over me. I felt a comforting around myself and that I needed to stop beating myself up about that day.
Even though this moment was beautiful, it really had me wondering- If I need to forgive myself for this event (which is fairly small in the grand scheme of my life) what other things in my life are longing to be forgiven??
Forgiveness is really an important step on our spiritual path, especially the forgiveness of self.
Forgiveness allows you to release past pains, resentments and frustrations which stop them from appearing in your future.
Forgiving yourself is really about loving yourself and being that comforting shoulder to rest on that you long for.
“Forgiveness is the final form of love”- Reinhold Niebuhr
Where in your life can you forgive yourself?
Take the time now to go within and forgive yourself for something that has been troubling or eating a way at you. You may be surprised what you find.