I love those quotes and songs on friendship. How did I spend a decade without friends then? Of late it doesn’t rain on me when I walk on the street. It really doesn’t, even if I want to feel lighter in the rains. I ventured out in the open seeing a good, black cloud overcast and willingly forgot to take an umbrella. Still not a single drop fell on me. God hates me for disowning friends and showers no blessings on me. Of course, I have a ‘friendly’ few, a small section of the greater ‘people’ group – but they’re tied to work or situations. There is hardly any carrying forward to the next page, if you know what I mean. I had friends till 30, but have only friendly acquaintances since. My friends’ list got lighter one by one, knowingly or unknowingly and one fine day I settled with myself. I’m still in love with the idea of friendship, but live without friends. I miss friends in need, I don’t quite miss them indeed. A life with stress, tension, uncertainties over health, money and peace toddles on. Friends are godsends during the early bull phases, but dispensable later when peers, the better and the luckier ones hog the sky (jinxed kites have been grounded anyway). Most people manage to make and/or maintain friends. They are smarter, they tailor up or down the size and shape of the requirement and squeeze into others’ slots too. I’ve a strange ‘small town kid’ syndrome that selectively clutters my adaptation in ‘big cities’ of life. After initial setbacks, I gave up trying. A choice, even if not a winner, is good as long as it’s mine.
First and foremost, I’ve cut down a lot on my share of jealousy. I don’t have to play truth or dare, don’t leave my ego vulnerable, don’t find someone else’s wife more beautiful than what I expected. My income remains less open a secret. I don’t get a chance to exercise my estimation tricks on others’ net worth too often. I’m not invited to fix others’ marital cracks. None joins me over a lunch or a drink, no surprises on my birthday, no help during a crisis, no one to refer me to any important forum, no investment or tax-evading tip – in short, no fringe benefits. My family is lonelier – they feel left out at social times. They are naïve about brands, hardly embarking on getaway trips over weekends. I don’t find ears to share my dark woes, shoulders to lean on when I’m low. Honestly, that doesn’t hurt much. It’s not possible to listen to others with such fast changing consumption patterns, unless you’re too drunk to speak. It’s difficult pouring your heart out when there is fear of lagging behind in race, unless you’re too drunk to care. The transition from ‘friend’ to ‘family friend’ took a hefty toll on my composure. I agree that most of the ‘transactions’ (gifts, eatery bills, recreational tariffs including service tax, transportation including parking fees, tolls) are give and take and somehow balance out at the end of a financial year. However, these do count in positive and add up to the overall maintenance cost of living a societal life.
I can’t say I’m doing the right thing, even if I’m not wrong. Wind does make me oscillate, but I’ve held on to my ground so far. There is nothing to curse your version of friendship, I appreciate most of its nuances. Lack of a solid reason to swing however leaves me stock-still. If I can’t be me, we’re not friends. If I’ve to act, I need to be rewarded. In today’s information world, some information or the other do leak on my ears. They are enough to lose sleep for a day or two. Had I maintained friends, I can’t imagine how many deaths I’d have died by now! What if I meet an old friend all of a sudden? Hiding away, being busy over a phone, royally worried over global warming or just an exchange of pleasantries – I’ll have to weigh on these options and a few more. Smile bridges distance, makes one time-travel and keeps an ordeal shorter.