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'I want to reform my father': a 54-year-old man on forgiving abuse

Shashwat | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 3:14 IST

This is a series of first-person accounts about family abuse and forgiveness.

Shashwat, whose name has been changed to protect his anonymity, is a 54-year-old entrepreneur based in Delhi. This is his story.

I want to reveal only the necessary details about my father. These things are too personal. Also, he is not here to defend himself. What he did to me was selfish, inconsiderate and harrowing. But relaying these experiences will only foster more negativity. The question we should really be asking ourselves is, "What now? What next?"

Read: four more evocative, intimate portraits of abuse by Shivani, Deborah Emmanuel, Rushil, Krish

First, let me talk about the good things my father did. My father gave me the best education this city can afford, despite having little money and fewer connections. This is the best gift a parent can give a child.

My father's guidance during the early years of my career still stands me in good stead. From these perspectives, he was a very good father. He was a very strong man, too. Strength is a wonderful thing when one is trying to overcome difficulties. But it also can impede one's ability to accommodate others.

I separated from him for almost 20 years after the many episodes of humiliation and abuse. I realised I had an obligation to protect my own family from him. When he grew old and needed looking after, we began to live with him again.

I look after him now. I ensure he feels loved. I ensure he knows we are all well-wishers.

I think of myself as someone who has borne the brunt of his misbehavior but is now on a quest to reform him

Is the effort I make for him rewarding? Absolutely. It requires resilience, patience and intelligent rationing of time, but it is well worth it.

Does this mean I've forgiven him? No. I cannot absolve him of his wrongs. I cannot mitigate the damage he has caused.


No, I view myself as someone saving my father from his personal hell. I think of myself as someone who has borne the brunt of his misbehavior and is now on a quest to reform him.

I encourage him to think about his karma. I pray for him. Yet, at all times I remain wary of him. I am careful that he is not in a place where he can cause further damage. But compassionate reformation, I have found, is far, far better than any retribution.

True, these things are easier said than done. It requires twice the strength to first resolve my own issues, ensure I do not fall into the easy cycle of intolerance and retaliation, keep myself at safe enough distance and then reform him.

Let me warn anyone who chooses this route: it is difficult, but fulfilling. It requires constant vigilance.

I have to assert myself in order to ensure that he respects his employees and treats my family with dignity. I have to try to reason with an unreasonable man. I have to stand up to an autocrat.

Eliminating him from my life would be easier. And in spite of my best efforts and die-hard optimism, the picture remains less rosy than I would've liked.

But I want to heal both him and myself. I will keep trying.

First published: 10 June 2015, 5:39 IST