Thoughtful...

Michhami Dukkadam

Michhami Dukkadam – a phrase used by Jains to apologise to all creatures. It is a phrase that means “I apologise to you for having offended you knowingly or unknowingly, in thought or deed.” On the last day of Paryushan, called Samvatsari, after pratikraman (means introspection in Sanskrit to my knowledge), Jains greet everyone they know with the phrase ‘Michhami Dukkadam’ asking for forgiveness and apologising for all they may have done wrong knowingly or unknowingly. My best friend, K, happens to be a Jain and she taught me this phrase. And she greets me with a Michhami Dukkadam every year on Samvatsari. And I greet her back with the same humble feeling. But today I want to apologise to someone else.

Many months ago, I booked a cab to take me to a restaurant where I was meeting a friend. It was a half an hour drive or more to get there. the cab driver was chatty. I generally don’t reveal too much about myself or indulge in conversations with them because I worry for my safety. And I was trying to answer as briefly as possible to this guy too. I didn’t want to offend him but I didn’t want to encourage a personal conversation either. Here’s how it went..(to the best of my memory…and where my memory fails to recollect the exact conversation, I have put in some dialogues that sum up what must have actually been said).

“Where are you from? You don’t look Gujarati!” he said to me.

“I am from the south but have lived here all my life.”

“Your Gujarati is perfect! Do you work here?”

“No, I am visiting my parents.”

“Where do you live?”

I was getting a bit wary at this point. I didn’t want to share too many details. I kept it vague.

“I live abroad.” – I didn’t at that point, I still had a few months before I flew to Edinburgh.

“Abroad! You must earn well.”

“The opportunities are decent. I earn enough. I am studying.”

“Still studying?”

I smiled. “I am a biologist. I am pursuing my PhD.” – I was still to begin the course but well…another small lie very close to the truth.

“US or UK?” These seemed to be the only two countries abroad that he knew of.

“UK.”

This time he smiled. “I have two daughters too. They study well. My elder daughter is physically very fit too. She wants to join the police. Younger one is too small to think of careers still but I want her to do well. Will you speak to them and encourage them to study well? It will make a huge difference coming from you.”

I couldn’t say no. He wasn’t asking for too much. He asked for my phone number. I am always wary about sharing my phone number with anyone I don’t know. I thought for a second about lying or giving a wrong number. But my heart said I shouldn’t trick this guy. My brain said it’s not exactly the safest thing to do. I followed my heart.

Before getting off, I said to him, “I am very glad your daughters are studying well. All the struggles that you have been through must end with your generation and education is the only way to do that. I wish your daughters luck and hope they do exceedingly well. I am very happy to hear about them.”

He said with great enthusiasm, “I will ask my elder daughter to call you. Say this to her. Tell her how important education is.”

I smiled and nodded.

*****

A few days later, I got a call from an unknown number. I didn’t pick up. I usually don’t. I received a message a few hours later saying she was the daughter of the cab driver and her father had asked her to call me. I said Hi and that I was glad she had called but it was a slightly inconvenient  hour to talk to her; that I would prefer if she dropped me an email (I shared the ID with her) and I would help her in whatever way I could. She never wrote to me. I lost her number too eventually.

I wish I had picked up her call. I wish I had said to her what I had said to him. That she should really focus on studying hard for that would end all their troubles. That her father worked so hard for her future and was so supporting of her. If speaking to me would have given her some motivation to do better, I wish I had contributed to her lfie in that small way.

K says to me that with Michhami Dukkadam one apologises for all the sins. I want to say to that girl through this post today – “Michhami Dukkadam! With folded hands and a heart full of sorrow. I hope you accept my apology. Whenever I pass a police woman that is close to her age, I will hope it is you. I will hope that you achieved your goal.”

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19 thoughts on “Michhami Dukkadam”

  1. I almost got teary dear,your virtues are upright and you never did anything intentionally,for all that matters.You are a good soul and I pray that his daughters succeed in the best way possible.
    Stay happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for stopping to appreciate this. And yes I never did any of this intentionally but I wish I had reached out to her to say she must pursue her dreams. It’s unfortunate the society we live in, for safety concerns often overshadow our virtues!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This is so lovely. Don’t be too hard on yourself, Aishwarya. You were kind to give your number and your email and it’s not your fault that she didn’t follow up. Thank you for sharing this phrase…it gives me something to use when I’m in this situation. Blessings to you 💗

    Liked by 1 person

  3. No, I think you did the right thing. You were polite in both cases. There was no reason for the driver to ask for your phone number. If you had met the young woman in person, by accident, the way you met the cab driver, it would be an opportunity for genuine communication. Too many trolls and scam artists in the world to take chances. I wish it were otherwise. But your prayer here is a satisfactory resolution. She will benefit from your spiritual support.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just looked for information to help me understand your dilemma. I have had no contact with religions other than Christianity. This explanation moved me a great deal:
      “The word Jain derives from the Sanskrit word jina (conqueror). A human being who has conquered all inner passions like attachment, desire, anger, pride, greed, etc. is called Jina. Followers of the path practiced and preached by the jinas are known as Jains. Parasparopagraho Jivanam (‘the function of souls is to help one another’) is the motto of Jainism.” – wiki
      This is so beautiful! I am learning much from reading your stories.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Your curiosity is much appreciated Albert! I admire curious people and you have now put yourself in the list of those I admire.
        An amazing thing about growing up in a secular country like India is he chance to know and understand so many different ways of life! I’m not a religious person at all but I do enjoy reading and knowing the philosophy that drives religions, and at the most basic level all seem to converge.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks for understanding Albert and I wish too that the world was a better place where we didn’t have to question everybody’s intentions! I hadn’t been able to find peace in knowing that I may have not done the right thing but writing about it and owning up to it made me feel a great deal better!

      Like

  4. What a wonderful post, Aishwarya. You have a very kind heart. You are a good soul. It is sad that we have to guard ourselves and our lives. my wish or mission is to make a difference, no matter how small, in people’s lives, but fear gets in the way many times. I understand your situation at that time and I understand how you feel about it now. We do end up with regrets but there’s nothing wrong with being careful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, I did have regrets for not reaching out to her at the right time but this post and writing about it makes me feel a lot better about it all 🙂
      Thank you so much for pausing to read through!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am often full of regrets of words unspoken and lives I could not seem to reach. I think we try the best we can, show caring and warmth as well as giving encouragement to those who need it most. You gave quite a lot of personal information out and you tried more than most! Hugs to you and best wishes as you continue your education towards being a learned biologist, Aishwarya. xo ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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