Human Embryonic Stem Cell Therapy Restores Hope for Amanda

How often does a victim get to meet her perpetrator face-to-face?

An Act of Forgiveness and Healing

I am reminded of an incident which I chose to barely touch upon during my last visit to India in January.  I am a believer in the mystical law of cause and effect and the simultaneity of life’s dance.  This is a tale of an opportune moment to accept another’s faults and open my heart to the beauty of forgiveness.  It was the incident where a woman at Dilli Haat market snatched my purse from the back of my wheelchair in a quick discreet maneuver—even under the watchful security camera’s eye.  Everything was gone.  My passport; my purse with 8,000 Rupees; $150 in US dollars; driver’s license; all credit/debit cards; health insurance card etc.; various personal belongings; and my US$5,000 electronic medical device that helped me pee on demand.  The culprit, a lady in a green sari and a thick black braid down her back, was spotted on the market’s surveillance cameras snitching my purse that hung from behind my back.  I was too trusting carrying my purse on the back support of my chair.  My thought process at the time was that Dilli Haat is a market that is secured from the general public with a paid fee to enter, and a security check station to come in and exit the grounds.  I learned my lesson the tough way.

My lesson was one of inconvenience more than anything.  Yet the experience became a rare opportunity to fully embrace forgiveness in the deepest and most literal sense.  Having reapplied for another passport at the US Embassy, along with an Indian Exit Visa, exactly one week later the perpetrator was caught.  The following Sunday after my purse was stolen, the same lady wearing the same black pointed shoes with the same handbag clutched under her arm walked through the security gates at Dilli Haat.  The guards were on alert.  The lady was soon recognized as the one who stole my purse.  Immediately she was nabbed and held for questioning by Sub Inspector Anish Sharma from Sarojini Nagar Police Station.  They searched her home and the next day I received a call explaining that my belongings had been recovered.  I was ecstatic!  Mum and I jumped in a taxi from the US Embassy and tore over to the police station only to find that the belongings were not mine.  Nothing belonged to me, not even the 3,500 Rupees wrapped in a checkered scarf.  The money was tainted…it wasn’t mine.  I didn’t want the money.  After all, it wasn’t about the money.  At Sarojini Police Station Mum and I (two blonde western females) were instantly surrounded by approximately twenty policemen standing in a paved concrete courtyard (and that is by no means an exaggeration). 

Sub Inspector Sharma is a fine English speaking Indian man who took pride in his ability to converse with us easily.  His green eyes looked directly into mine as he asked,

“For us to imprison the female culprit for up to four months, will you make a confession that the belongings are yours?” 

I couldn’t believe my ears.  Did I hear correctly—a false confession?  “Of course not!  This stuff isn’t mine,” I refused. 

“But we’ve caught the right woman.  We have proof,” he insisted.

The twenty-or-so men shuffled on their feet and stepped closer to the table in the scorching sun where we sat to hear our conversation. 

“No,” I repeated.  “I will not write a false confession.”  I was adamant the belongings were not mine.

“If these things aren’t yours, will you write a letter saying the money is yours?  We want to put this culprit in prison,” exclaimed Sub Inspector Sharma.

“If the belongings aren’t mine, how can you be sure that this is the same lady who stole my stuff?” I asked.  “I don’t want to wrongly convict her.”  He at once pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and showed my mother and me digital photographs taken from the video surveillance camera as evidence.  I still refused.

“I will write the letter for you and you just sign it, okay?” said Mr. Sharma in his most convincing tone.  The surrounding policemen inched closer.  Sub Inspector Sharma began hand-writing the document, which would appear before the court.

“Mum, what should I do?” I pleaded with Mum for advice.  I was grateful it was both of us and not just me alone with the men.

“Don’t do it Amanda,” exclaimed Mum.

“But don’t you at least want the money?” insisted Mr. Sharma.

“No, the money isn’t mine.  I don’t want the money.” 

By this stage Sub Inspector Sharma had finished writing the letter, which he began reading out aloud to me.  The composed letter went something along the lines of…

I, Amanda Boxtel, claim that the 3,500 Rupees that was stolen from my purse on Sunday, January 27, 2008 at Dilli Haat has been recovered and is mine.  Etc. etc…Signed, Amanda Boxtel.

At this point, Sub Inspector Sharma thrust the pen in front of me.  “Sign the document.” He asked with a more forceful tone. 

I repeated, “But this money isn’t mine.  I don’t want the money. You can have the money.”

“If you don’t want the money then we can have a party with your money.”  Exclaimed Sub Inspector Sharma with a smirk on his lips.  “Will you join us if we have a party?”

I could see that Sub Inspector had an ulterior motive.  With that comment, Mum piped up and said, “Amanda, sign the document.  Let’s get out of here.”

“Okay, I’ll sign your letter.  But, I still don’t want the money.  You can have the money and have a party.”  “Thank you Sub Inspector Sharma.”

I signed the letter and proceeded to roll away from the table.  The sea of men parted.  Sub Inspector Sharma called, “But Madam, don’t you want to meet the culprit?”  I stopped in my tracks.  “You can see for yourself that she is the culprit that stole your purse.”

“What do you mean?  I can meet her?  Where is she?”

“She is sick.  Last night, the culprit admitted herself into a hospital close by with a heart condition.”  He reported.  “You can visit her with us to see that she is the culprit.”

I looked at Mum with a questioning gaze and a shoulder shrug.  How often does a victim get to meet her perpetrator face-to-face?  The deep inner part of me couldn’t turn down this prospect…for I could see it as nothing but an opportunity. 

“When can we go?  How long will it take to get there?”

“We can go now…in your taxi.  It will take five minutes to get to the hospital.”

Mum gave me a nod of approval.  “Okay, let’s go.  I want to meet her.”

Driving to the hospital I felt sick to my stomach with anticipation of what might take place.  Sub Inspector Sharma and his underdog squeezed into the front seat of the old white colonial cab with our Sikh driver pushed to the far right.  He could barely steer.  Mum, me, and my wheelchair straddled the back seat.  My stomach did flip-flops.  What was I going to say to this woman?  We pulled up to AIMS public hospital.  A steady stream of people, old and young, mothers with newborns, the sick and weary, all moved like ants in and out and around the entrance.  We piled out of the taxi.  Sub Inspector lead the way.  I rolled down long linoleum corridors and travelled up two dark elevators into different wings of the hospital with Mum by my side.  This was a place that reeked of sickness.  I peered into rooms that were filled to the brim with ill patients, some moaning, others sleeping.  Twelve beds each a foot apart separated each patient.  Others lay on mattresses on the floor.  The rooms were hot and fans whirled overhead.  I was so grateful for my clean quarters back at Nu Tech Mediworld.  My hospital room was the Taj Mahal in comparison.

Sub Inspector asked Mum and me to wait.  He entered the room and spoke to the lady and her family in Hindi.  He motioned us to come forward into the room.  There she was.  The culprit.  It was the same lady who was in the green sari that I saw on the video camera at Dilli Haat.  She rose from the bed and our eyes met.  I saw such pain in her gaze.  She immediately recognized me, my blonde hair…my wheelchair.  She knew.  She was stunned.  Instantly she blurted out, “I’m so sorry.  Madam, I’m so sorry.  I’m so sorry.  I’m so sorry.”  She didn’t deny anything.  She held my gaze.  This woman was only 43 years old yet she looked sixty.  Old and hagged.  Life had been hard.  Over and over she kept repeating “I’m so sorry.  I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”  I felt her pain. I felt her desperation.  I reached out and took her hands.  I felt her humanness as our hands met and she felt mine.  Her dark watery eyes were riddled with hurt and sorrow.  As I felt her pulse in the palm of my hand, I asked in my softest voice,

“Please don’t do this again, that is all I ask of you.  You have caused my mother and me a lot of pain.”  Sub Inspector Sharma translated my English words into Hindi, but my instincts told me that she could understand everything I was saying.  “This is your opportunity to turn your karma around.  I wish nothing but good karma for you from now on.  I accept your apology.  I forgive you.”

I gave her hand a squeeze with mine.  She responded.  “Thank you Madam.  I’m so sorry.  I will look for your bag.  I’m so sorry.”

I looked deep into her soul.  Tears rolled down my cheeks.  I will never in my life forget this lady’s eyes—dark, mysterious, and painful.  She was indeed sorry.  I felt it right to my core.  I turned and we left.  I was speechless.  I felt light and free.  I felt her sadness in me.  I released any anger and upset that I had felt in days past.  It all dissipated into the heavy musty air of the hospital.  Instead I felt compassion for this woman and her family.  It was all okay.  I could replace everything I had taken from me but I could never replace my profound experience of forgiving another face-to-face, hand-to-hand, eye-to-eye, and heart-to-heart.  Nothing could be so rich and life-changing from this lesson.  What did I learn from this experience?  My life is a rollercoaster ride of good and evil.  While negative energies pose challenges in my life, I choose not to give power to evil, nor try to stop it.  As the universal law of cause and effect plays out in my world, I simply choose to be the observer and not participate in the negativity.  Instead I attempt to act with justice and compassion towards others in everything I do.  I am mindful of pain and suffering in others, which in turn helps to transcend any pain and suffering in me.

While the circumstances caused a horrible inconvenience in my life I understood the insightful purpose of my purse snatching.  I am changed.  My heart is an open book to the world.  I am grateful. 



1 Comment»

  miquie’s crew wrote @

i don’t know how to write this … this was beautifully written and i had tears in my eyes. you are lucky and very special to have met the same woman. and it is true what you wrote … everything can be replaced and that you had compassion for the other woman and her family … forgiveness is big and i am glad you were able to share your experience.

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