Of friends and friendship

I was browsing through my e-mails the other day and pop on the side chat-bar a very familiar name goes green. I am torn between opening up the chat box and typing an enthusiastic HI and keeping a check on my friendly hormones that are threatening to spill onto the keyboard. It's been really long since we chatted or spoke over the phone. Whatever little updates I keep getting about her is from the good old Facebook. She seems to be a busy person, what with one morning in the US and the other evening in Vienna. Lovely pictures of her family used to be a part of her regular updates but since a few months they have ominously been replaced with travel and work updates. My heart is jumping to ask her how she is REALLY doing and what has she been up to these days? Is all OK?? But it has been really really long since we had a heart-to-heart talk and I am unsure if the warmth we shared is still alive in the hearts (hers...). Amidst the tug-of-war between heart and mind, I type a hesitant HI. Pause..5 minutes..10 minutes..No reply. I am about to type again but a tiny voice pops in my head and says, ah! you are imagining things. Of course all must be well. Remember the FB status? She must be busy now. I close the chat-box and try to concentrate on other things. Now, this friend was once a really good friend of mine. We shared a great rapport and a lot of common things. Things got busy, life got busy, we still managed to touch base with odd phone calls and wishing each other on B'days and anniversaries. Then slowly, the odd phone call was replaced by sms and then it was just the FB. 

This could be a leaf out of anybody's life book. Do you remember your friends from school or college?. Are you in touch with at least one friend from school/college? In-touch, as in, truly know what is happening with one another, not the Facebook updates that are for all to see. I have bitter sweet memories of friends and friendships from the days of school and college. The close bond of friendship I managed to form with a handful are neither from school or college. We met at the after-college classes and stuck together since then. It doesn't, however, stop me from marvelling at how this bond forms and develops and changes over time. People change. Situations change. Relationships change. This is an universal truth. No matter how you bond with one person today, there is no guarantee that the bond will remain the same 2, 5, or 10 years from now. This classic rule applies, among others in varying degrees, to friendships too- one of the most important, beautiful yet very fragile relationships. It may evolve, become better, go to the next level, blossom, flower or even stagnate or perish altogether. Life is ever-changing, time ever-demanding. Communication has never been so easy. Never so impersonal too. It takes more effort these days to give your time, space and energy towards any relationship. The standard approach does not and will not work if you care more for some relationships than others.

It feels good to hide under the cliches like "oh! we connect like we never disconnected so, it doesn't matter if we do not talk frequently"..and so on. But, really? is it so?. At least, with me, given my not so outspoken nature, I falter in asking personal questions if the silence between has stretched a little too long. For me, it does matter if you can connect in ways other than the Facebook or Twitter or through Fwds in an email. The frequency may vary and a lapse of few months is OK but when the lull stretches a little too long, individual lives take over and the urgency to connect is put on the back burner and is slowly "forgotten". Reasons like "been caught up with life" are used with higher dosage and sometimes as an excuse too.

Friends from school and college bond with one another during the span of the course like there is no tomorrow and part with each other with promises of staying in touch. Some manage to do so despite distances and in-between crossing personal and professional milestones. Time is sometimes stolen and squeezed out to fulfill a commitment made years ago- of maintaining the relationship, no matter what. But, many fall wayward intentionally or unintentionally. The great times of camaraderie becomes a part of nostalgia, reminisced wistfully, yet the will and effort to re-kindle it lacks the fire.

So, what makes one go at lengths to remain friends with the other? why do some friends remain so for generations while some wither with time?

Like any other relationship, friendship also needs to grow. There has to be something in it for each of the persons concerned with it. When one person stops growing or grows in a direction that clashes with the growth of the other, the relation is endangered. Sooner or later, the relationship breaks under the weight of the opposing forces.

It also requires the mutual commitment to keep it going. If only one person shares the weight of keeping the relationship alive, it will not survive for too long.

Adversity is test of human relationships for it is only during the hard times does the real person emerge. But if one shuts himself inside, not letting even his close friend see the pain and the hurt, he loses an important aspect of the other person's friendship. He denies his friend the trust, confidence and faith and the chance to survive the mettle of friendship. The friend feels betrayed for he suddenly finds himself out of the life of someone he had considered to be close to him.

One also needs to a part of the others' journey in life, however different it may be. If not in every small event, at least in totality.

Are you still reading? Yes, you!..OK, you may wake up now. The sermon's over. Have you learnt your lessons? What lessons you ask??? ..sigh! I know...that was a longish post with a lot of "gyan" thrown in. It's the beginning of another week and if you are like me, you would be mourning the toughest day of the week-Monday.  So, if I have lost you in between, I will understand.


  1. I completely agree, Uma. Thanks for the sermon :)) Like most of us, I also have my share of friends who used to be very very close during school days but not any more. In one case, it was a case of mutual commitment not being there - I felt there was no input from the other side and I was the only one trying to maintain the friendship.
    My closest buddies are 1) one from school - 9th std onwards 2) two from MBA - I've known them both for abt 12 years now and 3) someone I've known only for around 2 years but with whom I have a major connect!!! Even tho we live in different cities, we chat very often and even stay over at the other's place.
    As Airtel puts it, "har ek friend zaroori hota hai!"

  2. Hi Uma,
    Evidently it's a very heartfelt post... n we often come across such situations when a start a new phase of life... leaving behind old friends... i passed out from my college in may this year... in all these years i have remained closely connected with three of my school friends... as far as my college friends are concerned, i am in touch with some of them... however, it's too early to say how many of them will stay connected "well" in the long run... since we are talking about friendship, i would like to share a poem i had written sometime back.. hope you like it!!

  3. Wow...thats a post with a lot of thought...I will read it again okie :)

  4. You have already read it!! I didn't know that.. thnx for the comment.. :)

  5. Aparna: I would call that a good number of close buddies. I have around the same number of friends with whom I share almost all my thoughts. Yes, still it takes some effort to reach out to them and also be available to them.
    I love that airtel tag line...

    Radhika: It's great to have friends with whom you have shared a part of your childhood (school).."staying connected" does undergo tests now and again..

    RM: :-) do come back, ok??

  6. Uma, you have absolutely hit the friendship nail on the head :).

    I do have a few loving friends from college though, and that sort of makes all the other hiccups part of the package :). I find that friendship or even a family relationship definitely needs a give-and-take and commitment from both sides, else people just drift apart.

  7. This is totally a page out of my book...most of my closest childhood and college friends are now just casual buddies and we just ping each other once in a bluemoon. Jobs, other relationships, babies and zillion other priorities seem to have encroached on these relationships..

  8. Posts like this one remind me of only 1 person....Neetu. We were so different yet best of friends. We are not in touch now and I have no clue where she is. It hurts a lot even now. Every now and then I mail like 2-3 lines to her. I know she wont reply but I cant stop myself. We shared too much.

  9. Sorry got a bit emo.....wanted to say tht it was a lovely post Uma:-).

  10. What waS that?! IMHO, this is the most beautiful post written by you!!! I so agree with you at different levels.

    Thanks to internet and social networking sites, "friendship" has become a fickle term. I get updates from childhood friends thru fb and I know, as u sed, are doing well, getting married, having kids, hopping around the world, losing hair, getting fat/ thin and all sundry details, but when it comes to doing the real talking, it's like "rehne do, dekh toh liya... aur kya poochna" Its so awkward to have a real relationship!

    I need to blog my version of it. :) Thanks for the idea... (though you have perfected what u want to say)



  11. Aparna, Bhargavi: We all have gone through this at some point and have lost some good friends to other commitments..:-)

    Nancy Aww..didn't mean to touch a raw nerve..I understand..been there done that..:-)
    *Hugs* and Thanks :-)

  12. Purnima: awww...such kind words Purni...*all smiles*..
    Please do write your version...

  13. Purnima: got so carried away by the compliments that I forgot to Thank You!!! :-)

  14. Uma, I don't know what I'd be today but for my friends... I have a friend from my 4th std! and another 6 of them from my 7th!! we meet up when the ones abroad come down.. are in touch over email/phone.. few make annual visits to chennai and our families, kids spend the weekend together.. the same when i visit.. FB is only for our common updates- and is rare:) I consider myself blessed! goodness! did i make a speech instead of a comment?!

  15. Vidya: WOW, ur one lucky woman, I say! I can say the same for 4 of my friends, 3 of whom are in the same city and we meet up every other weekend and our kids are also of the same age, so bond well. Known each other since std 9th.
    But really happy to know your case. Many more to such amazing friends..:-) have I written an essay in reply?? ;-)

  16. So well written this one!! I can totally relate to this... some of my old f'ships were so warm n tight then that I'm not sure the warmth still exists in their heart..but that said I do not hesitate to ping some "old" friend wen I see them online :) I agree that social n/w have wrung out the essence of "friendship". True frns remain frns with/without social n/ws :)

    All I wana say is, don't hesitate to ping ur frn from long ago..takin the risk to search for that warm glow is worth it if its there... if not, u know what to do the next time round :)

  17. Namratha: Thanks a lot Namratha!
    I generally don't hesitate but the response from the other side makes me rethink on my actions..:-)

  18. ha ha... u din lose me uma... read till the end.... :) i value fships too with all my heart... as you say, god knows wat awaits in the future, but i will sure as hell b in touch with 'em :)

  19. Hey Sulo thanks for reading:-)
    and Glad you liked it!..yes, be sure not to lose the good ones..:-)

  20. Hi Uma,
    I am a new visitor to your blog and still catching up! Love your writing style and posts, lovely usage of words and nice lilt to them.
    Do read this post on friends and friendships my blog http://wrenwarbles.blogspot.com/, which echoes what you have written about. Old ways of relating have to make way for the new and social networking sites like FB, twitter allow you the discretion of how close you want to be. E-mails and even phone calls are quite passe.

    1. Hi Chatty,
      Thanks a bunch for your kind words. I am so glad you like my posts. Hopping over to read your post.

  21. Dear Uma,
    Am a recent visitor to your blog. Love your writing style and choice of words, articulate and a nice lilt to them too.
    Read this post on my blog regarding friends and friendship which echoes what you have written here - http://wrenwarbles.blogspot.com/.
    Old ways of relating are passe. There is FB and twitter and g talk for connecting. E-mails and phone calls are for those really special people in ur life who will take some time out for you in kind. Just my thoughts on this.

  22. 'One also needs to a part of the others' journey in life, however different it may be. If not in every small event, at least in totality.'
    Very nice thought and so true :) The feeling of joy for having made a difference is someone else's life is unsurpassed ..

    'Adversity is test of human relationships for it is only during the hard times does the real person emerge'
    Adversity is also the test for the human being's persona itself .. Is a patient and polite person able to stay that way even when things go against him/her? Are you able to respect the people around you even when they hold opinions opposed to yours?
    Everyone can be good when all goes well .. The person you are during the times of tests is the person you really are ..

    Nice thoughts you have expressed here .. Refreshing to read :)


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