The act of forgiving

Rasiya is a young Muslim woman in a little place in Kozhikode. She lives with her infant child and her father, near the backwaters of Kerala where it rains for 6 months in a year. Her husband, Akbar, works in Saudi Arabia and like most families from the neighborhood, had struggled to go there and is now struggling to save some money and come home soon. But Rasiya’s world crashes down on her when she hears that Akbar has been imprisoned in Saudi on charges of killing another person. The sentence for the crime was death by beheading.

Ganga is a young woman from a staunchly orthodox Palakkad Iyer family. She lives with her in-laws in an Agraharam with her baby daughter. All is well with Ganga, until she receives news that her husband has been murdered in Saudi Arabia.

But all is not lost for Rasiya, for then she comes to know about the only way she can free her husband – if the wife of the murdered man signs a letter of pardon. If Ganga signs a letter of pardon.

This forms the setting in Kamal’s Malayalam movie, ‘Perumazhakkalam’ (roughly translated as ‘Rainy Season’) which sees Meera Jasmine play Rasiya and Kavya Madhavan, Ganga. The narration is poignant, and the ever-present rain in almost every scene of the movie brings out the pain all the more – for isn’t a rainy day a gloomy reminder of how even the weather is not cheerful? The rest of the movie depicts the struggle of one woman desperate to save her husband’s life and another who has already lost her husband and holds in her hand the life of the man who killed him.

This movie got me thinking on this amazing human emotion called forgiveness. It is amazing because it is hard to comprehend from where can a person find it in him or her to forgive someone for their wrongdoing. It can be as simple as a case of misunderstanding between two close friends or as grave as the situation brought about by the story above. What makes the story less complicated, perhaps, is the fact that Raghu dies as a result of an accident, when Akbar was beating up another guy who owed him money. In a scenario like that, we, the viewers, feel that Ganga should sign the pardon and free Akbar because it was not intentional! But Ganga’s words to Rasiya conveys a different pain – ‘You can stand in front of me and cry for your husband’s life. And I might even give it. But if I stand in front of your husband and cry for my husband’s life, will he be able to give it to me?’ The question leaves Rasiya speechless. But her determination in reaching Ganga, more specifically the woman in her who knows what it is to become a widow, does not falter.

I read somewhere that forgiveness is giving up my right to hate you for hurting me. Sounds fair enough. When I’m hurt, when I’m being betrayed, the least I can do is be angry with the perpetrator. The least I can do is refuse to forgive him or her and let the person bear the weight of their mistakes for the rest of their lives. The least I can do is let myself bear the weight of that hatred and anger for the rest of my life. But the best I can do is to forgive. And get it over with. For didn’t the Lord ask us to pray thus? ‘Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us’. We ask God to forgive us like we forgive others. When God forgives us if we truly repent, why can’t we, humans, do the same? Simple answer – because we are not God! Not even close. Which probably reiterates the notion that to forgive is divine. Because it takes a lot to let go of our anger/hatred and tell the person that we forgive them for their trespasses.

Getting back to the story, the other aspect that the director has portrayed beautifully is the mindset of Ganga’s in-laws. Hearing the news of the death sentence, the father-in-law asks his son to arrange for special prayers at the local temple as a mark of thanksgiving. It actually translates to a state of rejoicing at one man’s impending death. The way the family behaves with Rasiya when she comes to their doorstep asking for Ganga is very realistic, given that she is the wife of the man who killed their sole breadwinner.

Does Ganga sign the letter of pardon, after all? Will her in-laws let her, even if she wants to? Can Rasiya get her husband freed before it’s too late? Well, that forms the rest of the movie!

After watching this movie, I realized that there are a lot of other emotions entwined in an act of forgiveness. There will be doubts in one’s mind whether it is the right thing to forgive and forget. There could be a feeling of unease that once you forgive you give up the last right you had to feel hatred towards the person who hurt you. But then, there will also be a sense of peace to know that you have forgiven and are moving on, a sense of closure to all the pain and anger.

And finally, if it involves another person’s life, like Ganga is faced with, to forgive is, indeed, divine.

Picture: Kavya Madhavan and Meera Jasmine in ‘Perumazhakkalam’

Update: I’m told that Nagesh Kukkonoor (‘Hyderabad Blues’ fame) has used this very same story in his recent Hindi movie, ‘Dor’. Reviews on the www tell me the movie is worth watching, so maybe I will.


14 thoughts on “The act of forgiving

  1. This review was so well written, I’d be watching it already, if it wasn’t for one tiny obstacle – I don’t speak the language.
    (and I almost never watch movies, no matter how good people tell me they are)


  2. Princess – Ah, pity! Here’s a crazy question – do you speak Hindi? You could watch ‘Dor’ if you do. But then you dont watch movies! I’m kinda lost now. :-\ BTW, thanks. I’m not very good at this review writing, you would see a lot of failed attempts on this very blog 😦


  3. Lovely bit of writing that ! sorry to say that u r a bad judge 😐

    You do write reviews very well 🙂

    And yeah, I have been wanting to watch Dor/Perumazhakalam for a loooooooong time…Will do it in a week’s time 😀

    And that passage on forgiveness is splendid..Placement of right words in right order to convey the right message 🙂


  4. Nithya – Picture this: I write a review and the second sentence in your comment reads ‘u r a bad judge’! 😉 I’m now waiting for my heartbeat to return to normal 😀 Your third sentence probably saved my life! Thanks, glad you feel it was not that bad 🙂


  5. Princess – 🙂 I had a feeling. You speak Latin? That’s cool! I know someone who speaks Latin (along with other European languages) fluently and I was mighty impressed!

    Sharan – Yep, ‘Dor’ was released sometime in 2006, so you can check that out.


  6. The passage on forgiveness is cool,i jus watched saw 3 jigsaw also focusses on d same concept but in a entirely different manner.. i dunno malayalam and hindi fluently like english n tamil.. i wont be able to appreciate this..

    p.s. i heard sun tv is airing kadhalika neramillai on one of d saturdays this month.. i think u were lookin for one particular scene in tat..


  7. Venki – Pardon my ignorance, but what’s 3 jigsaw? 😕 As to Sun TV, me no has Sun Network on TataSky 😦 So no SunTV or Surya or Gemini or the hazaar other Sun channels *sob sob*


  8. i shld have used comma to seperate saw3 and jigsaw.. saw 3 is the third part of the saw films and jigsaw is the killer in the movies.. no sun network on tata sky??atleast u have other channels!!


  9. nice work on forgiveness

    a note about the movie…. i was so moved by the portrayal of these characters.
    i watched dor too, but its has other twists and turns (quite unnecessary tho’ – or Nagesh had other thoughts).

    the question is …. will everyone look at this the same way ?


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