Friendship…Part 1 – What a misunderstood word

Friendship…what a misunderstood word

It is after a lot of thought that I decided to start on this topic, one ( friendship)  which I feel means more in relationships than any other that we have. I am pretty sure that you will be taken aback by the last sentence/ statement. I will try hard to explain myself over the next few minutes and maybe in the forthcoming Blogs on this subject, that I aim to write.

Is there anything official about friendship?

Many months ago, while I was reading a book, which spoke about a famous personality, something struck me. When one writes about a person, one mentions his/her parents, siblings, grand parents and any famous relative. There is NO official mention of who his/ her friends are. We recognise each other, officially and otherwise, by ones family tree, not friendship tree. I know that is the way to go, but I must say that I value my friends a lot more than what the official records allow me to.

People say – ‘ God gave us relatives, Thank God we were allowed to choose our own friends’. Many will frown at this but if we were to pause and gather our thoughts we would see how true these words are. My take is simple – You are blessed if you have even one real Friend. That is my experience with friends and friendship. I am not so sure about the Blood is thicker than water statement. Maybe more viscous  but not otherwise.

I studied in a boarding school in the Nilgiris Hills. From Class 1 to 10, I was both in a Preparatory Boarding school and then the main school, in the Nilgiris. It has been fifty two years since I met a few of those I am still friends with. That is a very long time. Remember, I must have studied with ( in the same class) over a hundred and twenty boys and girls in the ten years of schooling. Yet, the number of friends that I have is not more than ten and the closest left this world seventeen years ago.

Is friendship natural?

Not in my view. It is one of the most difficult relationships that exist on earth. It takes a very long time, years and decades for friendship to mature. I believe that it is only the Human species that has a relationship called friendship. Friends are rarely referred to in religious texts. In the Abrahamic faiths, the prophet Job had his friends mentioned, in Hinduism Sudhama is Sri Krishna’s classmate and closest friend. If there are more I will be happy to be told of them.

Friends and friendship have been written about, since time immemorial. However, the relationship of two people of the same gender is a very difficult one. In certain societies such as ours in India, friendship between people of different genders is not encouraged and therefore a very difficult one. I have been panned by many when I said that it is very difficult to remain ‘just’ very close friends among people of different genders. This is arguable but it is not my point.

My point is that you cannot just be friends with anyone. I also believe that you stop making good and deep friends after you enter your 40’s. Now, remember, all these are my views. They are arguable.

Why is friendship not natural? It’s because the friends must be able to do many things that are not easy to do. They must compete, with each other,  if they have to. Enjoy each others success, even if it meant one was beaten to the top by the other. Extend a hand when needed ( you should know when it’s needed and that is very tough). Cover for each other, if the situation demands. Criticize but DO NOT JUDGE. You should be able to step in when the situation demands. All this is very difficult to do. Needs a lot of nurturing and understanding, fights and making up. Needs a lot of silence and letting go of ego’s.  Believe you me, I only had /have two close friends I can say all this about.

The two I mention are among the ten or so I believe are my friends after fifty eight years on this earth. Now, a lot may wonder – only two? Yes, only two.

What forges friendship?

For me, it was a combination of similarities and differences. In the two friends, I was closer to one than the other. Controversially, I never believe that parents love all their children equally. Don’t give me that. They may love everyone but equally? Hmm. I do not think so. However, that is another subject. Here, I must admit that one gets closer to one person, more than the other, in a trio, for whatever reason or the other.

In my case, my closest friend and I met when I was sixteen and he was seventeen. In the twenty five years that went by till I carried his limp body around the fire, seventeen years ago, not a week went by when either of us spoke to each other at least once. When there were no cell phones ( when he left, cell phones were still at it’s infancy and we paid for incoming and outgoing calls) he called me from his house or office, often just to ask how I was and sometimes to chat a bit. Else, I called him, for just the same thing.

I believe that both my late friend and my other friend and I were close because of both our similarities and differences. My late friend and I, while in college, used to fight almost every day and not talk to each other for days, while going out together and eating , smoking and drinking together. The only one who was allowed to intervene was our third friend. We ensured that the fights were sorted out among ourselves. No external interference. I believe that was the essential ingredient in our successful relationship.  Period.

I will stop here. I hope to be back with more about friendship in my next Blog.

( I believe that friendship needs to be worked upon and never taken for granted. I am so grateful to God for the few friends that I have and for the two among them who I love/d dearly . Trust me, they never supported me when I did wrong, however, most importantly, they never judged me…and that is what friendship is based on. Honesty and No Judgement.)

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