Monday, December 17, 2018

Ideal forgetfulness?

Nandri marappadhu nandrandru; nandralladhu andre marappadhu nandru - Tirukkural

Never forget a favor; immediately forget any injury - Loose translation

This thing about gratitude really vibes with me. Who does not like receiving a benefit that one had no right to expect? And a favor is not something that you have bought and paid for, and can complain to customer service if you do not receive it. To forget favors received is to take them for granted, as something that you receive as your right - somewhat like the Government collecting taxes and hounding you if you fail to ante up.

But that other part - this forgetting injury the very same day...that seems sort of crazy. You know, like that 'good man' of yesteryear movies, who is cheated by someone, takes him back and signs over a power of attorney to him thereby becoming an overnight pauper. Yeah, seems like the sort of thing that made being good the same thing as being too stupid to live.

It is not so, apparently. Or, at least, Tiruvalluvar was not particularly inclined to be giving moronic advice. So, it is not like he would be asking you to forget the past villainy of people, give them a knife and turn your back on them, trusting them not to test the sharpness of the knife by pushing it between your shoulder blades.

What he was saying is, probably, more the normal things that break up friendships and cause schisms between loved ones. Things like a harsh word in an off-mood, or not coming over to an important family function, not showing empathy when you needed it (or not Liking your social media posts, not Sharing your Instagram pictures...? You mean it matters that much to you? Well, then, that too.)...stuff like that which you keep trotting out every now and then in your mind, every time you feel that you want to resent the other person. Tiru feels that it is best to forget it the same day, if not the same hour, instead of carefully storing it in a corner of your mind and taking it out and viewing it like it is some beautiful piece of jewelry which you wish to rejoice in, over and over again.

It is things like this which make me wonder whether Tiru really belonged to the Human race at all. I mean, we all know that Humanity is known for its irrationality. We know how happy it makes us to remember people being good to you and how it painful it is to remember people hurting you - and, so, we duly forget all the good that people did to us, and remember with absolute clarity every nuance of when we were hurt by people. And this chap actually thinks that people can do the reverse and choose to be happy.

Or, perhaps, he did not. After all, nobody goes around telling people to breathe because it is important to do so in order to live. You only give advice when you know that people are not already doing it.

And, as with all good advice, people nod in acceptance and duly pass it on. Without ever applying it themselves.

As I am doing now!


  1. So, who is Tiru? He seems to give really good anecdotes and you give even better explanations for the better of lesser mortals like me!

    1. Tiruvalluvar is a famous historical Tamil poet who wrote 1330 couplets of advice which is the popular Tirukkural.