A woman once repeated a nasty piece of gossip about a friend. The news travelled, and soon everyone knew the nasty news. The woman’s friend was deeply hurt, not only by the untruths being said about her but by the betrayal by a friend.
The woman who had first passed on the gossip was also wounded, wracked with guilt over the pain she had caused her friend. She approached her grandfather, a man she had always seen as very wise, and asked what she could do to set things right.
“Buy a chicken, and have it killed. Then on your way home, pluck its feathers and drop them along the road. When you have done this come and see me again.”
The woman was somewhat perplexed by this advice but she followed it anyway. The next day she returned to her grandfather. This time he told her to go and collect all the feathers she had dropped on the road yesterday and bring them to him.
“But that’s impossible” she said. “They’ll have all blown away.”
“Exactly” said her grandfather, “it’s easy to drop them, but it’s impossible to get them back. It’s the same with gossip. It doesn’t take much to spread a rumour, but once you do, you can never undo the hurt. But perhaps you can ask forgiveness.”