Often we say some words that lead us to repent later, and we wish we hadn’t said those words. This has often happened with me in moments of extreme distress and anger when I, being unable to control my emotions, have lashed out many critical, offensive and abusive words that have hurt my near and dear ones. The whole thing has been very unintentional and later I have experienced mental torture due to my own deeds and felt very guilty.

As the arrows from a bow and bullets from a gun cannot be retrieved, our words, once uttered cannot be taken back. So we must be very careful regarding what we say. Our tongue is akin to a blade or knife, having the potential of stabbing the heart by uttering malicious words.

At this juncture, the story of the tiger and a poor man comes to my mind. Once upon a time, there was a poor villager who earned his living by selling wood. One day, he went to the forest to collect wood and faced a tiger and got afraid, but the tiger, instead of eating the man, offered to be his friend as it was lonely, and told it would gather wood for the man and the man had to hug and love it in return. The man accepted the offer to save his life.

From then, every day the man went to the jungle, where the tiger gave him the bundle of wood and the man patted and hugged it in return. The man was happy that he could earn money without having to work hard, but he hated the foul smell of the tiger’s skin, and one day he confessed this to the tiger.

Hearing this, the tiger told the man to beat him severely with a stick. The man protested but the tiger did not listen. So he beat the tiger till there were marks on its body. Then the tiger said, “These marks of wound on my body that you have given me will heal one day, but the injury made by your painful words will remain in my heart forever. You can go now and don’t ever come here again or I will eat you. Goodbye.”

From this instance, we can infer that words are dangerous and if used improperly, can lead to perilous consequences. Therefore, we all must be very careful as we have to take responsibility for whatever we say, and must choose and use our words judiciously so that we don’t have to repent later. By the Constitution of India, we all have been granted freedom of speech and expression, but we must keep in mind that our freedom should not be the cause of another’s pain. If everyone starts thinking in this way, then the whole issue of repentance wouldn’t arise.

Diptarupa Mallick Dasgupta

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