The other day, I was offered an apology. It wasn’t a bad one. But, I wasn’t ready to settle yet. Somehow, the apology didn’t quite, at any point during its course, exceed the threshold of my expectation. And regretfully, I had to turn it down. I have my principles. And they don’t include accepting an apology that is rendered in haste. Haste is a trait I view with suspicion. The apology that rolls off the tongue easily does not satisfy. It reflects evasiveness and flippancy, not remorse. What does it say about me when I accept apologies rather easily? I would rather not stoop and sink to the level of those who promiscuously accept the easy apologies. Once you sink down to that level, it’s just a hop, skip and jump away from the dangers of forgiveness.
A day later, the apology was re-submitted. This time, in a noticeably lengthier form. Yet, it did not satisfy. So, I held my silence. But, I felt an escalating pressure to accept it and, to use a rather crude phrase, “put the matter behind us.” Upon examination of the apology, I was satisfied this time to note that it was complete and not half-baked. It contained a high level of repeated assurance that it was meant sincerely and “in good faith.” Many of the apologist’s friends called in to confirm true regret on his part. There was language in his words that suggested that he (the apologist) had reflected on his act, and that it (his act) reflected “insensitivity” and that he was “distressed” by the “whole thing.” It was an excellent attempt. Yet, it did not rise to the level needed to overwhelm and wash away memories of original cruelty and inflicted pain. I lingered. I wondered what it would mean to accept the apology. Would it mean that I had somehow ratified his callous behavior? Would it mean that I accepted him back? No. I was not ready for that, not yet anyway. And so, I turned it down.
Disappointed, I turned instead to the comfort of musing on the nature of apology itself. Does the simple apology merit existence? Is “sorry” worth the trouble of expression? I pondered on the hurts, pains, aches, anger, disappointment and disillusionment we cause each other. When considered against the backdrop of our monumental blunders, our abject apologies seemed inadequate. So, I wondered. This reverie was interrupted by a third apology. This time, it was in the form of a note, accompanied by a fine bottle of French wine, a box of Swiss chocolates and tickets to an IPL game. Nice try, I thought. But, wait. We were not done yet. There was the note.
The note said, “I hope that you will find a way to accept this apology, which I solemnly affirm that I’m making with full possession of my mind and faculties and without reservations or conditions, and move on.” I read the note. And, I read it again. As I read it again and again, I sensed fury possessing me at what I believed was the cavalier use of the phrase “move on.” Was I being equated with a guest lingering at an overcrowded buffet table? I sensed impatience on part of the apologist to somehow evict me from this moral high ground that I had rightfully occupied after his transgression. Anger enveloped me at his audacity. And, I blacked out thereafter.
After I had recovered sufficiently, I did what I felt was best under the circumstances. I wrote back to the offender. “I’m sorry. But, I cannot accept your apology.”