By Lata Jha:
I refuse to believe the world has lost its heart and soul. I don’t think relationships are always formed and abandoned for benefit and convenience. There are people who still care for each other, who can’t do without each other, and the many bonds that I see around myself help me believe that true friendship is still a reality.Â You’re born with family, but you choose your own friends, they say. I don’t think so. There are people you were meant to be with, grow up with, share your life with. You accept them regardless of their flaws and eccentricities and they love you for yours. In spite of the fact that we live in this shrewd, pragmatic world, I think a lot of us still are all heart when it comes to our friends.
It didn’t take a Friendship Day (the concept which I don’t get) for me to say all this. Like parents, siblings or teachers, I don’t think we need one day in the year to tell our friends they are special. They are the reason you take the strength to wake up to every new day, and see yourself to the very end. Their presence, and often, mere existence, goads you on to take whatever comes your way. Why would you wake up one fine Sunday in August and decide that you must make a formal declaration of your love? The fact that they’re incredibly special, you must let them know more often.
I say this because with the advent of the college season, I realize that many people would be going through the pain of parting from their friends. Like I did, two years ago. I came to college, quite convinced that I would hold on to my school friends and would never be able to make new ones in this city. I held on to quite a few of them for sure. But I also interacted with a lot of new people and was fortunate to discover some truly precious relationships here as well. Friendship does not see distances or circumstances. It’s genuine and it’s from the heart. If it’s meant to be, it shall.
I’d be lying if I said I share the same relationship with my school friends as I did when we lived in one city and saw each other daily in school. With some, the bond’s grown stronger. With others, not so much. The fact that I get to see my closest friends once in six months, and sometimes, a year, makes the time spent with them even more special. It’s difficult to keep us apart because there’s so much to share. So much to tell them that I couldn’t, over calls and messages.
I also don’t expect things with my college friends to not change once we graduate. But trust me; distance does make the heart grow fonder. You can’t be talking every day for the simple reason that nobody has the time. Nor is it possible to discuss everything over the phone. It just makes meeting them in person, whenever you do, that much more special.
These people you want to hold on to regardless of time and space constraints, I think you need to make an effort for. Learn to grow and become part of their worlds. When they tell you about things that don’t affect you immediately, take an interest because it matters to them. As college going students today or working professionals or parents tomorrow, you will have a lot in common. But a lot of your problems will differ, and it’s important to discuss them. There should never come a point when you can’t have a conversation, because the other person is not an immediate part of your circumstances.
Yes, there are people you drift away from. It is inevitable. Take it again as something that’s meant to be. Like the ones who stick around and are a blessing, there are ones who are meant to go away. You will probably meet again some other time, somewhere else. Don’t force a friendship.
Be a good friend to your friends. Don’t wait for a Friendship Day to make them feel like they’re fortunate to have you. Be understanding and accommodating. Make that effort to talk to them. When they talk, listen. When they don’t want to talk, let them be. Tell them that you miss them, or that you like having them around, for that matter. It doesn’t make you mushy. Just don’t overwhelm them with it.
Most importantly, know when it’s okay to let them make their mistakes. You don’t always have to be the mother hen. You could know that they aren’t really doing the right thing, but let them go ahead and do it, as long it’s not exactly endangering their existence. They will come around in time, they will learn from the experience and they will appreciate the fact that you stuck around instead of saying ‘I told you so’ and walking off.
I say all of this from personal experience. Because I know that a lot of our generation has grown up in close knit peer groups and tends to form these special bonds. It has a lot to do with our times. As self reliant people with liberal parents, we’ve spent a lot of time engaging with our peers. But we’ve faced our own problems, which only we understand.
It’s not really a tightrope walk, sustaining a friendship. It should come naturally. The problem is a lot of us are too self absorbed to even give vent to our most natural instincts. That’s all we need to make time for. Maybe on the glorious occasion of this Friendship Day, we can make that promise to ourselves.