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    Volume 9 Issue 2 | January 8, 2010|

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A Life-long Investment

Aasha Mehreen Amin

There's always a time in one's life when things hit rock bottom and you feel that nothing will make you feel better again. But here's a little reminder- there's always a backup spirit-booster just waiting for you to take advantage of. Before you think this is some sort of gimmicky appeal to make you buy the elixir of eternal youth or something like that, read on.

We are talking here about, not some secret formula to smooth away your wrinkles or the extra tires of flab that 'somehow' invaded your perfect body; we are referring to your priceless pool of friends. They may not be the ones you always hang out with. They are not just in it for the good fun you help to provide with your presence although those kinds of friends are essential too, for the occasional teleporting to the golden years and revelling in common nostalgia. Real friends are genuinely interested in your welfare, your success, most importantly, your woes and how to get rid of them.

While on the subject of friendships I have realised that like many of you, I have been blessed with a treasury of people, who are truly what I would call friend material. Our hectic, ridiculously preoccupied lives ensure that we hardly get to see them but even so, we know that they are out there thinking about us and commiserating with our grief, praying for our recovery when we are sick and celebrating our joys with us in their minds. It's true, if you were to put them together it would either be a room with uncomfortable pin drop silence or a battlefield with diametrically opposite views and personalities. But on a one on one basis with you, they provide the most enriching, reassuring emotional support when you need it most. It's because they know you, warts and all, enough to have faith in you. They may point out the unsavoury truth sometimes when no one else has the courage to do so but they never judge you or turn against you, even when they don't agree with you.

For many of us who take obligation and responsibility to masochistic levels, spending time with our friends become the last priority because it is something only for ourselves. This is especially true for women who spend ninety percent of their time just trying to be useful to others, often forgetting that they are neglecting one of the most important investment in their lives: their friends. Most of my friends are scattered all over the globe and the others are a few minutes away and still I hardly see them. But the beauty of friendship is that no matter how long the months of silence, when you do get in touch it is as if all that time did not exist and the rapport is instantly established.

I am probably the worst friend ever, often forgetting birthdays, anniversaries or even not knowing about major upheavals. Yet for some amazing stroke of luck I have the most forgiving friends who never make me go through burdensome guilt trips. It's because they know how jampacked our lives are with family and work obligations and random crises to manage. It is so therapeutic, however, if you can make contact with those friends and just have a good bout of hysterical laughter over mutually understood inanities, to assure each other that we are not losers and to have a good cry in front of each other without a shred of embarrassment.

The world is an overwhelming place and it is hard not to be bogged down by backstabbing, being misunderstood or by people's pure apathy towards your existence. This is when that phone call, that text message or email to any one of your pool of real friends becomes your lifeline to survival. Sometimes all it takes is to laugh at ourselves with each other over the pathetic, impossible situations we fall into. It is a breath of fresh air when negative energies are suffocating you.

When I look back at the past year gone by, I feel privileged to realise that I had the chance to reconnect with friendships that have endured over many years and distances. I have always been given a patient hearing to my whining and we have always managed to find a way to laugh through our tears. Nothing can beat the joy of seeing these dear people face to face. But when that is not possible even a message through cyberspace will do.

It is the most comforting feeling to know that at any point of time, when life hands you the scariest free fall, you know someone will be their to catch you before you hit the ground. Your friend.


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