Friendship is one very complicated relationship that most of us have all along our lives. It starts probably at the age of one when a child starts building that friendly bond with his/her sister or brother. Then that friendly bond gets stronger and stronger and that sibling bond lasts a life time. Then the friends they start making in their kinder garden. With all the silly fights for chocolates and color pencils, they grow with them and this friendship, for most of them, fades away and becomes a thin line at the age of 10 or 12.
The search begins again. We meet a bunch of young wandering minds just like us. We begin to bond with them and try to match their standards be it high or low. We tend to act the way the friend acts and change our habits for him or her. I still remember the time when I begged my mom to get me an ink pen (hero pen) when I was in class 6 just because my close friend (till date) had one. I made sure my Hero pen looked better than hers by getting a black instead of dark green.
We don’t want to completely look like our friends and at the same time, we don’t want our friends to think that we are not “their type”. We want to camouflage our own character with the friends’. This continues till we are almost 15 or 16. This is also when the peer pressure hits its maximum. The “I know. I can manage on my own” attitude makes us feel that it can draw friends towards us. We may either move along with the bad company or join hands with a bunch of friends who teach us little things that matter in life like trust, sincerity and honesty.
Often, parents tend to think that their daughter or son might fall in love at this age. Yes. They might. But this doesn’t mean that, if your daughter talks to a guy friend in her tennis classes, she is definitely going to fall in love with him. For all you know, she might just love his company when she has no one to talk to during her classes. Objections to these types of friendships come from a crude cultural belief that all guys view girls as sexual objects first and real people second. This is a very insane argument presented by most of the parents.
Then, at almost 20, when most of us have boyfriends or girlfriends, the real friends play a small but meaningful role in their lives. Some children go vocal about their problems to their parents. But, most of them don’t. They rely on a friend to talk to and need a shoulder to cry on when they face dejection and disappointment. Emotional, good, bad, angry, sad moments make their bond stronger and this friendship lasts for a very long time. With Facebook and Whatsapp, I am pretty sure they will last the test of time and distance. And a few years later, I think, they’ll be the only shining stars in their life when they look back.
Friends at work, spouse’s friends, neighbours, etc., play the second innings in our friendship life. And when we grow older by a few more years, our children’s parents are added to the list of our “second innings friends.” As people approach midlife, the days of youthful exploration, when life felt like one big blind date, are almost over. Schedules compress, priorities change and people often become pickier in what they want in their friends. This phase is such a pain as all we get to discuss is about the next family outing to a hill station or about the breakfast your child eats. Women become more concerned about the kind of friends her husband and her children have. They tend to question every move with all the curiosity in the world. And men are more concerned about filing tax returns and watching World Cup matches with his friends.
At 40, it is really hard to make new friends. With the grown up children, we have no one but them and we consider them as our best friends. I still remember the day my mom asked me if she could hold my hands and walk because, that’s what friends do today. The daughter-mother bond is one very strong bond. At one instant, they are the best of friends and at another instant they become the worst foes (fathers get to witness this at all times). The generation gap leads to the extreme bonding as well the difference in opinions. Towards the end of our lives, we tend to fall back on track with our age group friends. Chit-chatting about politics, food, temples and not to forget the children and grand-children in the United States is all we can talk about.
To make friends comes naturally to all of us. To maintain friends is difficult. To remember the ones who helped you during crisis is a boon. Friendship is that lovely relationship which breaks if you don’t understand the other one or if the other one doesn’t understand you.
Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.