Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 2, Issue 32, Tuesday, February 15, 2005





"God gives us relatives; thank God we can choose our friends" - Addison Mizner

Friends and family are similar in many respects. They all borrow DVDs and never return them whereas some may present you with a whole bunch out of the blue. The difference according to the great saying above is that you can selectively choose friends, so that all of them are the types that present you with DVDs till you have enough to open a shop.

Friendship does have other perks aside from borrowing DVDs. You can borrow a heck of a lot of other stuff as well.

Aside from the materialistic point of view, friends are there through all your defining moments. There are times when one cannot or will not be there by your side. Having a proper friend at that moment is an invaluable asset. In a way this is going back to the materialistic view but lets face it, a life without friendship is not much of a life.

Many say that friendship is like a tree. It provides you with a lot (DVDs again?) but it also needs care and grooming. It's like nurturing a sapling to grow into a majestic foliage enriched tree. The care constitutes a healthy dosage of trust, intimacy and empathy. In fact, trustworthiness and dependability form the root of friendship.

Of course, such good friends are rare as a result of personal compatibility or the lack of it. Two people could be friends and do everything together for years on end but the intimacy may be missing. On the other hand, two other people could just meet and click as we say. So how do you know who your true friends are? See who is with you in your time of need.

Some of the strongest bonds are formed between friends who have known each other since they were soiling their nappies. It is something that often endures for decades. Little girls playing with dolls and miniature cooking utensils grow up years later to reminisce about the past. "Shoi" is a Bangla word females used for their closest fiends.

You can see its influence in the scores of literature books that deliberate on the subject of companionship. In the old days, friendship had a different pattern from how we see it now. Generally, children would form bonds between the same sexes. Matters have changed wonderfully now. Also, there used to be pen friends in the days when hitting a keyboard wasn't an option. It was a friendship that formed its bond through words. You don't hear the other person but you know their deepest thoughts.

Getting a telephone connection through bribery or otherwise allowed this to evolve to phone friends where the tone of the voice was all that mattered. Even parents screaming about phone bills would not mar the experience. The advent of computers and online chatting meant that distance or phone bills no longer form a barrier. But then again, friendship never did have any barrier.

In school
Some friendships grow while others break throughout the changes in ones life. In school children pay, fight, makeup and play again at the blink of an eye. But underlying all that is a strong bond of camaraderie. For many friends made in this stage are the closest of all. For others, school years become a distant but fond memory. It's a heart wrenching time when students finish their school years and enter college. Friends go different ways. But through all that, some persevere and keep in touch despite all else.

Parents dropping off their children at schools end up forming close friendships with other parents. It's a phenomenon that keeps going on.

Through college
The college years are a different scenario where new friends are made. It's a generally carefree time although present college students might disagree. Bonds are made based on personal tastes. Their enthusiasm leads you to believe that they can achieve just anything short of changing the orbit of the earth.

A difference is that generally when the girls get married they no longer stay so much in touch with their male friends. Similarly, when the boys get into work they start their own families and previous female friendships are not quite bonding. This is a direct influence of our society.

Into the professional world
Getting into the chosen line of work means working with people from a diverse range of backgrounds. At this time, friendships are formed regardless of age or even social differences. At this stage of life, there are families, car payments and children's school entrance fee bribes to worry about. It becomes difficult to go and spend time chatting with old friends from school. In most cases the next best thing is to sit with colleagues for an 'adda'. These colleagues sometimes become family friends that endure even after retirement to spend the time chatting idly.

Neighbouring relations
Friends are not made only through ones educational or working life. Neighbors sometimes form a greater part of ones friend circle. Neighbors are there to sit in the evenings for a chat or to go out together for shopping. Women get together to talk about the latest formulaic Hindi serial while the men or boys go on about how the Bangladeshi cricket players are doing so well in hopes of winning brand new cars.

Friends can be found at every corner of life. The point is to find one that you can rely on. There are stories where those who were thought to be friends turned out to be devils in disguise.

People have been stabbed in the back literally as well as metaphorically. Trust is a precious thing to give out. Incidentally, realizing an actual friend is a difficult matter. But despite all that friends, or rather a life without friends is unthinkable and unbearable.

By Sultana Yasmin
Translated by Ehsanur Raza Ronny
Photo: Zahedul I Khan


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