Here is another extract from the book Aleph by Paulo Coelho. This part of the book is when Hilal forgives.

'We can never wound the soul, just as we can never wound God, but we become imprisoned by our memories, and that makes our lives wretched, even when we have everything we need in order to be happy. If only we could be entirely here, as if we had just woken up on planet Earth and found ourselves inside a golden temple, but we can't.'

'I don't see why I should forgive the man I love. Or perhaps only for one thing, for never having heard those same words on his lips.'

A smell of incense begins to waft towards us. The priests are coming in for morning prayers.

'Forget who you are now and go to the place where the person you always were is waiting. There you will find the right words and then you can forgive me.'

Hilal seeks inspiration in the gilded walls, the pillars, the people entering the church at that early hour, the flames of the lit candles. She closes her eyes, possibly following my suggestion and imagining some music.

'You won't believe this, but I think I can see a girl, a girl who isn't here any more, but who wants to come back...'

I ask her to listen to what the girl has to say.

'The girl forgives you, not because she has become a saint, but because she can no longerbear to carry this burden of hatred. Hating is very wearisome. I don't know if something is changing in Heaven or on Earth, if my soul is being damned or saved, but I feel utterly exhausted and only now do I understand why. I forgive the man who tried to destroy me when I was ten years old. He knew what he was doing, and I did not. But I felt that it was my fault, and I hated him and myself. I hated everyone who came near me, but now my soul is being set free.'

This isn't what I was expecting.

'Forgive everything and everyone, but forgive me too,' I ask her. 'Include me in your forgiveness.'

'I forgive everything and everyone, including you, even though I don't know what crime you have commited. I forgive you because I love you and because you don't love me, I forgive you because you help me stay close to my Devil, even though I haven't thought of him for years. I forgive you because you reject me and my powers are wasted, I forgive you because you don't understand who I am or what I am doing here. I forgive you and the Devil who touched my body before I even knew what life was about. He touched my body, but distorted my soul.'

She put her hands together in prayer. I would have liked her forgiveness to have been exclusively for me, but Hilal is redeeming her whole world, and perhaps that is better still.

Her body starts to tremble. Her eyes fill with tears.

'Must it be here, in a church?' Let's go outside, into the open air. Please!'

'No, it has to be in a church. One day we'll do the same thing outside, but today it has to be in a church. Please, forgive me.'

She closes her eyes and holds her hands aloft. A woman coming into the church sees this gesture and shakes her head disapprovingly. We are in a sacred place, the rituals are different here; we should respect the traditions. I pretend not to notice and feel relieved because Hilal, I realise, is talking with the Spirit who dictates prayers and the true laws, and nothing in the world will distract her now.

'I free myself from hatred through forgiveness and love. I understand that suffering, when it cannot be avoided, is here to help me on my way to glory. I understand that everything is connected, that all roads meet, and all rivers flow into the same sea. That is why I am, at this moment, an instrument of forgiveness, forgiveness for crimes that were committed; one crime I know about, the other I do not.'

Yes, a spirit was talking to her. I knew that spirit and that prayer, which I had learned many years ago in Brazil. It was poken by a little boy then, not a girl. But Hilal was repeating the words that were in the Cosmos waiting to be used when necessary.

Hilal is speaking softly, but the acoustics in the church are so perfect that everything she says seems to reach every corner.

'I forgive the tears I was made to shed, I forgive the pain and the disappointments, I forgive the betrayals and the lies, I forgive the slanders and intrigues, I forgive the hatred and the persecution, I forgive the blows that hurt me, I forgive the wrecked dreams, I forgive the still-born hopes, I forgive the hostility and jealousy, I forgive the indifference and ill will, I forgive the injustice carried out in the name of justice, I forgive the anger and the cruelty, I forgive the neglect and the contempt, I forgive the world and all its evils.'

She lower her arms, opens her eyes and puts her hands to her face. I go over to embrace her, but she stops me with a gesture.

'I haven't finished yet.'

She closes her eyes again and raises her face heavenwards.

'I also forgive myself. May the misfortunes of the past no longer weigh on my heart. Instead of pain and resentment, I choose understanding and compassion. Instead of rebellion, I choose the music from my violin. Instead of vengeance, I choose victory.'

'I will be capable of loving regardless of whether I am loved in return, Of giving even when I have nothing, Of working happily even in the midst of difficulties, Of holding out my hands even when utterly alone and abandoned, Of drying my tears even while I weep, Of believing even when no one believes in me.'

She opens her eyes, places her hands on my head and says with an authority that comes from on high.

'So it is. So it will be.'

A cock crows in the distance. That is the sign. I take her hand and we set off back to the hotel, looking around at the city that is just beginning to wake up. She is clearly somewhat surprised by what she has said, but for me, her words of forgiveness have been the most important part of my journey so far. This is not the final step, however. I still need to know what happens after I finish reading that letter.

We arrive in time for the breakfast with the rest of the group, pack our our bags and head for the train station.

'Hilal will sleep in the empty berth in our carriage,' I say.

No one makes any comment. I can imagine what's going through their minds, but I don't bother explaining that it is not at all what they think.

'Korkmaz git,' says Hilal.

Given the look of surprise on everyone's face, including that of my interpreter, the words are obviously not Russian.

'Korkmaz git,' she says again. 'In Turkish that means "he goes and is not afraid".'

I didn't know that "git" means something in Turkish :-)