The Power to Forgive

01 April 2014

ABOUT THE STORY At its best, fiction can generate a web of delicate and urgent ethical inquiry. In ‘The Power to Forgive,’ Avinuo Kire shows us that the human urge to end conflict and heal wounds can just as well, when appropriated on behalf of another, cause lasting hurt and resentment. Her unnamed protagonist, a young woman, is seen just before her marriage, contemplating the one incident that has defined her life: her rape as a young girl by a family member. Helpless to defend herself at the time, she continues to be reminded of it by the sympathy of those around her as much as by their silence; although we see that she is not vindictive, she has never been able to understand how her father could decide to forgive her assailant. Kire quietly and powerfully traces the shape of a tragedy and its ripples across a self, a family, and across memory and time, asking powerfully and disquietingly: does forgiveness sometimes itself need forgiving?

‘The Power to Forgive’ is taken from Kire’s first collection, The Power to Forgive and Other Stories, forthcoming from Zubaan.

SHE SAT ON BENDED KNEES, riffling through pages of old documents and other papers, some which would remain forever necessary and some which had long fulfilled their purpose. She had never been a particularly organised person. Marksheets, old Christmas and birthday cards, and various outdated church programmes were all jammed inside a single brown cardboard file with the words “Government of Nagaland” on the cover. A page of paper made a crackling sound of protest as she crumpled it into a ball and threw it towards the waste bin.

Avinuo Kire lives in Kohima and works at the State Resource Centre for Women, under the Government of Nagaland.

Keywords: rape memory short story marriage