'Friends', through the ages

When we were younger, everyone we knew was a friend. We spoke to everyone, fought with many and patched up with a few. In the periods before our teenage years and after, life became a bit more complicated. Our friendships were partly defined by movies and books— having a best friend, a “yaar”, “jigri dost” or “geleya” was glorified. One did wonder why such people were hard to come by in real life. Yes, some were close but didn’t we have a tinge of jealousy, a spark of anger and a bit of hostility to our best friend? Wasn’t it reciprocated too? Coming out to the world and starting a career brought with it its own issues with friends. Did colleagues classify as friends? What if we grew fond of some of them? Did spending more time on weekends, sharing details from your life make them more a friend than a colleague?

In any case, the dilemma ended as soon as one got promoted or shifted to another division or the boss managed to pry us apart! Then came the concept of a spouse being a “friend”. Of course, they have to be. How can one stay in the same house otherwise, or share whatever one shares in life? A spouse also doubled as a shoulder to cry on, the first person to reach out to, the one who would be by your side, even if one committed the gravest crime! Of course, they came as a package, with some layers not giving so much happiness as others. But overall, the package worked and how!

Kids, as they grow out of their tantrum stages can become the most wonderful friends. Extended family and relatives could be a pain in the neck as well as a good stop for hearty conversations. The gossip mongers and nosy relatives in our families usually give some of us heartburns and make it seem that itwould be better to leave them behind. But some could grow to become true friends who could connect and dole out advice due to their age or disposition.

Social media spawned a whole set of friends. This started with “groups” of friends as opposed to individual ones. The pang of finding your crush married to another, the heartache of finding your rival in a much better career position, the reminder of long lost feuds made some groups very unpleasant. I was a part of group where ‘A’ section and ‘B’ section were at loggerheads after a gap of maybe 30 odd years!

“Unfriending” and “blocking” makes moving away from such conflicts and friends so much easier. Twilight years can bring in more wisdom, that one’s best friend is one’s health— both mental and physical. We wait till this realisation or maybe lose this crucial friendship before we realise its worth.

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