Friends are an inestimable treasure. Age difference, generation gap etc. are not a bar; friendship is the meeting of two minds and hearts that understand, love and accepts each other non-judgementally. Shernaz talks about friends and friendship, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.
Friendship is a garden of many hued flowers nurtured with care and tenderness. It is a necklace of most precious gems. It is a rainbow of countless sparkling colours that don’t fade away; in fact, they become more vibrant, mushrooming on the expanse of life, into a fantastic collage of exquisite times spent together. It is an exquisite poem of love, understanding, compassion, acceptance, laughter, fun, mischief, sympathy, honesty, togetherness, trust, generosity and forgiveness that friends compose. It is a glorious tapestry of magnificent qualities woven together. It is the elixir that makes life bearable, even worth living when it is twirled suddenly in a whirlpool of storms that rip off the very fabric of existence. It is the hand that lifts you up and holds you steady, the shoulder that comforts and the heart that cocoons in the time of grief. It is the most splendid gift that the gods have bestowed on mankind.
Like love, friends and friendship are the two most misused words. To distort an old idiom, with Facebook it appears that one can get friends a ‘click’ a dozen. There are Facebook users who can boast 2000 plus ‘friends’ (a misnomer). Nothing could have adulterated the true meaning of friends and friendship more than this. Perhaps, Facebook should find a new word to replace friends because many in our list or groups can be petty, abusive, argumentative, downright mean and aggressive! The scariest part is that they may not at all be who they claim to be! Someone has put it very precisely: Don’t be fooled. People aren’t who they ‘post’ to be. I have had the honour of being ‘unfriended’ by a person who claims to be on the spiritual trail; someone who guides and lights other people’s paths with his words. Why was I unceremoniously thrown out of his list? Because till that day I had not bought a single one of his books! What a criterion for friendship! May he stay blessed!
On the other hand, I have found some wonderful people too through the internet. People I have come to know personally. They have helped me grow as a writer and poet, enriching my creativity; they have brought me joy by sharing themselves and their work with me. They have proved to be good with no fine print, no terms and conditions applied. I have been touched by the sincerity of their hearts, the integrity in their words and the beauty of their souls. Even those whom I have not met, whose eyes mine have not looked into and whose smiles I have seen only in photographs. There is true warmth in the hugs they send; genuineness in their wishes for your success or well-being; they rally around with prayers and encouragement for those who need it. Yes, there are excellent people to be found everywhere and these I count among the broader category of friends.
Technology has enabled us to discover our school friends who were lost for decades. The wonder of those friendships is that distant miles and lapse of all these years have not diminished their spark because we were always in one another’s hearts and minds. Reuniting after forty odd years we saw them simply melting away into joy, as we relived old memories and forged new ones with laughter and fun. It is not imperative that we don’t really know everything that happened in one another’s lives in these intervening years. What we know is that we matter to one another. There is an indestructible childhood connection that is very valuable and our friendships have simply taken off from there like rain lilies that begin to blossom again after the first rejuvenating shower. It is a bond that is difficult to fathom. Trying to analyse it would be tantamount to wanting to locate the sweetness in sugar. It is just there. Beautiful and precious!
The flip side of technology is that for many people their friends live inside their computers and behind their phone screens. Online social communication sometimes gives us an illusion of friendship while it shelters us from the requirement of companionship, honesty, selflessness and all the precious gems that embellish the tiara of true friendship. Despite the twenty-four hour connect those who have a list-load of virtual friends often also have loneliness and depression as their constant companions. They are more firmly grounded in digital identities; their self-esteem is founded on likes, comments, and followers. They let real relationships fade away. What they need is to disconnect from the screens and reconnect with real-life friends over things that truly matter. Cementing friendship over a cup of tea, a book or even idle chat makes it stronger than posting red and pink hearts on your status. Let us not limit conversations to texting and feelings to social status. Have heart-to-heart talks; face-to-face conversations. Let us bring life back into our relationships and dialogues.
Friends are an inestimable treasure. Friendship is a two-way bridge where a friend can be a sounding board for ideas however crazy they may be and also the broom that helps sweep out cobwebs from your mind because she knows how to separate the chaff from the grain. Parents, siblings, some other family member or a teacher you can relate to on a comfortable level can become a wonderful friend. Age difference, generation gap etc. are not a bar; friendship is the meeting of two minds and hearts that understand, love and accepts each other non-judgementally.
This morning I received a humorous little anecdote through WhatsApp. It nails the beauty of friendship. Below is a rough translation of it from the original Hindi.
I came home late one evening and was accosted by my mother. “Where were you, rascal?”
“I was at a friend’s place.” Mother immediately rang up 10 friends of mine one after another, to verify my claim.
Four of them replied, “Yes, aunty he was here only.”
Three said, ‘He has just left from here.”
Two offered, “He is right here. Should I pass on the phone to him?”
Hearing this, my mother could not contain herself. She burst out laughing and exclaimed, “You rascals! Today, I’ve realised that you don’t get friends in this life, you find your life in friends.”
We have all had friends who have covered up for us with little white lies. The ‘friend’ to be wary of is the one who will mislead in a huge way and take us along a path we shouldn’t be on. True friends lift each other up. They do not drag someone into the cesspool of wrongdoing and/or crime. They may be manipulators under the guise of friends. If certain friends don’t feel right, we must have the courage and personal integrity to change them. That won’t make you an ungrateful or unfaithful friend. If your conscience does not allow you to accept their ways, let them go.
Of all friendship quotes the one I like best is Jim Morrison’s, “A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.” There is magic in those words; an enchantment that illuminates and warms the heart. They speak of a language shared without words; of mutual responsibility; of love and sweetness that knows how to split the bitter dregs of another’s life by being there like a dependable rock in rough times. They speak of a one in a million friend. To have such a friend is to be blessed many times over! I can confidently say I have such a friend, who rekindled my inner spirit; who readily stabs me in the front with the knives of truth and concern, holding up a mirror so I can see my real self; he can make me laugh at the silliest things in my dark hours. It is a prized relationship. Thank you, my lovely friend.
Here is a tribute to friendship in this poem of mine:
Friend, I gave you a heart
with corpses of unrealised hopes…
you blew the kiss of life on them
and they surge with zest anew
I gave to you dear friend
the ashes of singed emotions…
you placed them in the urn of your love
and they rise triumphant from the dead
to you, I gave my mind
a chaos of garbled ideas…
you sifted the debris with calm endurance
and returned to me my sanity
I gave to you my life friend —
a messy bit it was
you embalmed it in the shroud
of understanding, sympathy, love…
Behold! It is fragrant again!
Photos from the Internet
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