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On friendship

I have often wondered why I take up the idea of friendship very seriously. A recent pondering over the matter after a status update on the issue on Facebook made me think of all the stories inspired from our rich mythology that might be behind this thought process. I was largely brought up under my grandmother’s supervision. She is a pious lady who has deposited her wealth of faith at the feet of Lord Krishna. When I was in the impressionable age of 3-5 years my grandmother had time, energy and inclination at her side to devote to me by instilling in me all the right kinds of values and morals. I have clear memories of her animated story telling sessions, urging me to go off to sleep in the languid afternoons of hot/ rainy months in Palampur, while I demanded yet another story. Her stories came from the Ramayana and the Mahabharta wheras the ones told to me by my grandfather or even by my mother were sourced from the Panchtantra.

Her, my grandmother’s, stories were about the good deeds performed by the Lords Rama and Krishna. Hanuman and Sudama would often be important participants. Hanuman whose physical description put me in awe of him also scared me somewhat and I have repeatedly heard the story of being frightened out of my wits at seeing for the first time the huge statue of the kneeling Hanuman at the Chinmayee Aashram at Sidhbari. Also maybe that was the time when my own fertile imagination was stamped by the Monkey God’s prowess and in my opinion he became the epitome of friendship.

With time and age I did grow up to understand that Hanuman looked at Lord Rama as his Master and every action that he performed after having met Rama was devoted to him, at another level, maybe a subconscious one I always look at them as great friends- a concept that must have been imparted to me as a small kid. I have imagined them discussing strategy for attacking Lanka over berries, or Hanuman giving Rama a hug before making off to fetch Sanjivni booti when Lakhsman was hit by deep-sleep/ death inducing arrow, or Rama calling out to Hanuman ji to share the day’s tit-bits after resuming charge at Ayodhya.

With such a basis for my thinking, it is a very shocking thing to be called as a friend by a person I have already met twice or maybe thrice. The usage of the word ‘friend’ in place of acquaintance haunts me for days together. I often have faced difficulty in acknowledging such ‘friends’ in public where I would rather do my own thing rather being forced down to sit for ‘friendly’ chats. The social media in its tow brings a lot of friendship requests which force me to think ‘when did I befriend this person?’.

My problem also takes a turn for the worse when the ‘friend’ is a person I don’t think highly about. I would not hide behind pillars on spotting my friends at a mall nor would I try to make sounds with bits of paper to cut a telephonic conversation short if a friend is on the other end of the line. Seeing or hearing from a newly acquired ‘friend’ makes me want to do all this and then in either situation- whether I do all this or don’t- I berate myself. If I ignore the ‘friend’ I beat myself up for doing this to someone who calls me his/her friend and if I don’t I mentally kick myself for putting up with the torture.

Somewhere deep down inside I laugh at my own stupidity. I know very well that the ‘friend’ is probably using the word for the convenience of it. For one the spelling is easier than say acquaintance. Secondly how else do you tell the world your relationship with the newest member- an asocial person- on the block that you have kindly consented to adopt and introduce to the wholebuilding.

To lessen my agony at being referred to as a ‘friend’ I tell myself that in these pressing times I should not be too demanding.


Prerna said…
Funny world that-the virtual one. Puts another challenge in front of us... to keep separate our online lives from our real lives.

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