The Subtle Art of Forgiveness

By: Madineo P. Mofokeng

When my parents separated I was just over eight years old, and my younger brother was five. The separation was terrible, especially to my poor mother. She had just discovered that her darling husband’s favourite hobby was beating her to a pulp.

What followed after this was much worse than the actual separation. Stress, depression, custody battles, child maintenance cases that would go on until I was age 15. Even many years after this toxic marriage had ended, nobody in the family uttered a word about the abuse and suffering this woman endured. My mother was falling apart. She was an angry, bitter and hurt black woman. To add salt to the wound, my father refused to sign the divorce papers.

She waited four long years since the separation, until she was legally free from this man’s bondage. Not only had he beaten her multiple times into unconsciousness, he had also beaten the self-esteem out of her. Years on end, I noticed how my mother thought so little of herself and how the mention of his name would fill her eyes with tears. I remember how her face would change whenever my brother and I would mention his name in our conversations. I paid so little attention to her reactions that I did not notice how one day they suddenly stopped. The tables had turned.

For the past few years, I had noticed how effortlessly my mother engaged in conversations where that monster’s name frequently popped up. She went from completely staying away from people and places associated with her ex-husband, to attending his family’s functions.

I thought it was all pretence. I was waiting for the time where she would go back to treating him and everything associated with him like leprosy, but it never came. She went as far as engaging in conversations with him, talking to him like someone she merely recognized from her childhood.

This is the man she was married to, had two kids with, and yet he returned the favour by trying to end her life countless times; she still did not flinch. I do not know how she did that but it was amazing. How do you even forgive someone who is not sorry? As a single mother of two toddlers she soldiered on. I did not notice how each day my mother was gathering strength to finally forgive my father.

My mother had never said out loud that she had forgiven my father, but her actions were so clear they became difficult to ignore. She did it so quietly it was almost invisible. The subtle art of forgiveness. The lesson I learned from observing my mother’s situation is that, forgiveness does not need to be loud and dramatic to be genuine. When the process is done, the actions shall speak for you.

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