T S Haokip
We all have friends from school, college, locality, and workplace. Now, many even make friends through social media. It is difficult to label someone with a Best-Friend tag, considering the various kinds of friendship we all have. For believers, no friend comes even near in comparison to God; He is the friend for eternity. That apart, how do we cherish our friendship with people in our lives?
I had a very friendly relationship with my parents and my siblings. In fact, there is nothing I could hide from them, especially my mother and my younger sister. As for my father, separation due to academic requirements robbed us of ample opportune moments, but we had a very cordial relationship and on every vacation, my favourite past time would be to sit with my Mom, Dad, and siblings and talk about anything and everything. My relationship with my younger sister was the talk of the town; so much so, that a few of her friends thought I was her boyfriend. She fits in the dream of having a friend 24×7. We’d talk about songs, people, places and girls. As time passed, life eventually changes, but they remained very close to my heart.
Growing up in a tiny town, I was close to most people of my ages from the locality but one person stood out from others. I call him “Pashekho” then “Shree” and now “Bhaisab”. In fact, he calls me by the same name. As 10-year kids, we would secretly go for river baths almost every Sunday, much to the dismay of our concerned parents, and played football made from rags. As we grew up, we’d stroll the nights with Guitar in our hands and it is from him I first learned how to strum the 6 strings and the song “summer of 69′ reminds me of him even today. We’d have four meals a day ( A square at each’ place). The sleepovers were too frequent and could be mistaken as lived-in. A walk to “Theipi phung” (a fig tree) a few hundred metres to the outskirt of the village on a cold December night would be the usual past time during winter vacations.
One day, as I accompanied my mother to the cornfield, my friend’s father had a heart attack and was supposed to be taken to a hospital; my friend came looking for me but had to leave without me. I felt so bad about not being able to be by his side when he needed me, so much so that I stayed at my friend’s with a few other friends till they returned. Two days later, we met but not with his Dad alive. We hugged and cried for long, each not knowing what to say. No words would have been enough anyway. Several years later, we both part ways to pursue our education and met just once in a 5 years interval. We’d, however, exchange letters occasionally before the mobile phone era. A total of 15 years had passed since then and we could hardly have time reminiscent of those good old days. In between, my father too left for his heavenly abode to be with bygone loved ones including my best friend’s father. We both got married and are blessed with beautiful children. With the “Theipiphung” gone and with our busy lives revolving around the fixed routine of office works and family-responsibilities, we are content with occasional “How do you do” over the phone, but the beautiful friendship continues.
If being married spares a negligible time for your other friends, it bestows a wonderful opportunity to spend your time with your family. Your kid(s) become your companion, sometimes even when going to the washroom. It is a different level of friendship, where you always give your time, patience, eatables and they do the taking part mostly. However, beyond the spectrum of physically visible association, one cannot deny the priceless feeling of inexpressible joy, just at the mere sight of them. That way, I felt the luckier one in my friendship with my kids.
Then comes undoubtedly the most important person in my life i.e my wife. She is the combination of one’s parents, siblings, friends, and children. If she advises me like my parents, she listens to my silly pieces of stuff like my best friend. If she banters like my kid(s), she also stands by me in all my ups and downs as my parents did. If there are times when misunderstandings happen as, in every friendship, just the sight of someone who has loved you enough to leave her home to stay with you is more than enough to ease any situation. It is the one friendship, I earnestly pray and hope that it last real long as it is in this friendship, I could feel the goodness of all different friendships, all very valuable to me.
Today, as we celebrate Friendship Day amidst the pandemic that just balks at abandoning us, where social distancing, lockdowns, and isolation have developed into a routine affair, it is worth rekindling the value of friendship in our lives. As individuals, we can remember and appreciate those close to us; as a community, we can learn the art of peaceful coexistence through mutual respect and love for each other; as nations, we can prioritise peace process to undue competition and display of muscle power and as mankind, we can play our part efficiently by protecting, conserving and developing the flora and fauna around us even as we endeavour towards keeping mother earth a safe place not just for us but the children of our children too. Friendship is one factor if adhered to in its true spirit as an individual, community, nation, and mankind that will create fewer foes, clashes, wars, and natural calamities, if not prevent a pandemic. #HappyFriendshipDay to all.
(The writer is author of the book HILLY DREAMS)