Sometimes the present passes us by while we spend time reflecting on the ills of yesterday. Time escapes before we even manage to notice, much less correct, our errors. Yet we do eventually learn from the past and grow into better people. Hardly any of us can claim to be saints so why not reflect and understand where we’ve erred rather than turn a blind eye and pretend that nothing is wrong. Here’s a little story:
A close friend and I found ourselves at loggerheads as we couldn’t see eye-to-eye on the matter of punctuality. It was starting to become habitual for her to be late for our appointments by up to 30 and 40 minutes. This seriously annoyed me and naturally I asked for an explanation. The content of her reply was unexpected.
“Truly, I dream of the day when you’ll see me for who I truly am and stop quizzing me,” she exclaimed turning on me as if I was the one at fault. I was shocked, very shocked to discover that she didn’t believe in punctuality! This for me was a sign of disrespect not only to other but also to herself. I started to think this could be the end of our companionship if we failed to settle this.
“Ehem,” I cleared my throat, ready to use the remaining 30 minutes of our time hammering my point.
“I am disappointed that you don’t care about punctuality. It irritates me that you arrive late and it upsets me that we spend every meeting arguing about being on time,” I said firmly.
She looked at me with saddened eyes. “I had no idea you felt so strongly about the time,” she started, “I thought. . . I just noticed that every time we meet you have your nose in a book. I had this notion that you enjoy it so much it wouldn’t much matter much to you if I ran a little late. It just never occurred to me that you were actually reading whilst waiting for me, heck, I now feel like I’ve been wasting your time.” She genuinely meant it as an apology.
I marveled at how she had managed to turn things around so quickly and it struck me that this was actually quite funny. So I figured, well tomorrow is another day, accepted her apology and went on my way.
“We are better than our faults from yesterday.”
Emebet Mengiste is a Life Coach and author of short stories, fiction and poetry in Amharic. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Taken from the Amharic short story collection “To Not Stay Silent” (ዝም ከምል ብየ)