That never-sinking ship
In today's world, has the definition of friends evolved to mean a whole lot more, or less?
PHOTO: V. V. KRISHNAN
FRIENDS FOREVER Stay in touch with friends.
I recently met up with a friend whose dad had passed away a few days ago. After sitting in complete glum, grim silence in a café for half an hour, out came a steady stream of silent tears quietly flowing down her flushed cheeks. Neither spoke for the next half hour. That one hour was by far one of the most communicative, profound and vivid grief-sharing experiences I had yet encountered. As we parted ways that evening, I had moist eyes, happy that I could be that ‘friend' and knowing only too well that if need arose she would be there for me in the exact same way.
In this day and age of hundreds of virtual friends, online and offline friends, personal and professional networking-site friends, a smattering of real touch-and-feel-friends it is a wonder what the term ‘friend' has evolved to define. My five year old's definition of a friend is anyone who he has seen for two consecutive days at any place – so there are “swimming-class friends, school-friends, music-class friends, football friends…not even names are needed – just recognition of some facial features (is my guess). My two year old, on the other hand, calls any human who is less high than three feet tall a “friend” — instantly going out of her way to shake hands or smile at them.
“Friends, for me, are the people in my life with whom I can take off from wherever we left off, be it six months or six years ago. They easily re-connect with you, are the best sounding boards, give counter-points of view and yet – you can be assured that they will doggedly support you in case you do decide to act contrary to their advice”, says T. Zacharias, who works in an MNC. He goes on to add, “With real friends, you don't have to hold your guard, you can argue your cause till the other eventually gives in or wins you over. There are, happily, no unfair biases or expectations from each other”.
Agrees Rani Mathew, a grandmother of five, “For many of us, friends are often as close as or even closer than family – they've shared with you so many emotions through various stages of your life – smilingly assuring you as you stood a shy wreck-of-nerves bride at the door of the church, holding your tiny pink bundle gingerly, with eyes moister than your own, sharing with each other the ‘joys' of parenting your little toddlers and then of course, sharing notes on how to deal with the rebellious teenagers that suddenly evolved from those little innocent creatures that each of you gave birth to!” she laughs.
She adds, “In this age and time, I find that so many of us are so caught up in the everyday grind that making time for friends is an out-and-out luxury. Like in the case of every relationship, you need to invest time and effort in keeping friendship alive, because there may be several times in your life when you may want to share thoughts and feelings or even get a second un-biased opinion from someone outside of your immediate family — so do not take your friends for granted or forget about them,” she cautions.
“For me a friend, during school and college days was someone who could bail me out of any trouble without batting an eyelid!” laughs Preetha Narain, now a mom of two. “My best friends were always there for shielding me – whether it was about bunking classes, being at a movie or shopping when we were supposed to be doing ‘combined studies'!”
She adds philosophically, “Being an only child and not having siblings around, I think the couple of best friends I have since my kindergarten days are the ones who have been there for me through the ups and downs, moulding me and influencing me to the largest extent, making me the person I am today. I owe so much to them!”
It's no wonder then, that these creatures we call friends are the ones we share our innermost thoughts, cribs, rants and frustrations with – freely, openly and without the fear of being judged. And if some dear friend comes flashing back to your mind as you read this, this is probably a good time to pick up that phone and call them, or drop them a line to get back in touch. And, no doubt, those heartfelt interactions can give us the renewed energy to take on the next bend in the road that life has to offer.
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