I was recently reading an article about how friendships can end, even in the best of circumstances because life happens, and not everyone can be in contact with their friends. I was thinking about if a friendship can ever end, people can remain out of contact but I have seen friends talk to each other with the same familiarity even after months of not talking to each other.
My friends and I, as well as most people of our age are at this juncture of deciding whether we are grown ups or still just kids. Most of us have now jumped to the other side of the road, where we are thinking like grown ups, getting more serious. All this leads to one thing: our lives are changing.
I associate change with time, because all of us change with time. When you spend time with friends, there seems to be no sense of time between you and your friends, because even six hours seem like five minutes, and we just want time to stop, because we want to spend one more moment with our friends. Does a friendship change with time? It does. All friendships evolve, as our personalities change over time. We literally grow up with our friends.
Does a friendship ever end? It is possible, but
[Ocean Voung writes, “Some people say history moves in a spiral, not the line we have come to expect. We travel through time in a circular trajectory, our distance increasing from an epicentre only to return again, one circle removed.”] (An excerpt from his novel.)
I think a friendship can be like a circle, it doesn’t end, when you move around in a circle, you end at the same place you start. We are taught that if you end at the same place you start at, whatever might be the distance moved, the displacement is zero. I believe a friendship can be like that, even if you move across distances, you end at the same place you started at, the level of comfort being the same.
As someone who has moved all their life and as someone whose friendships are very tight knit in nature, I also view friendship as a miracle, something that maybe in slight shadows, is close to magic. I see my life and my friends’ life as parallel tracks, and it does take a twist of fate to make our lives intersect so that we can meet at some point.
I have realised that it is relatively easier to start and end friendships than continuing them, most of our friendships start in school, where it is in a way effortless to start a camaraderie because you meet everyday at school and spend a lot of time together, so you forge a close bond with a few people.
In March 2020, I had very excitedly told my parents that I will make a lot of new friends in the new school year. That did not happen, because for me it is a little difficult to make friends from behind a laptop screen.
For a period, albeit not a very long one, I was not talking to my old friends and not making any new ones, and I was very worried, something I rarely am, about if I would have any friends or not. My earlier writings revolve around the theme of friendship, one day a friend called and said, “sometimes we write about things we don’t feel very strongly about, for example, you aren’t really that worried about your friends, are you?”
These two years behind our screens, in isolation, at home, without meeting anyone, has changed my perspective about friendship but I remind myself that:
Friendship is like the ocean; boundless, unfathomable, infinite, astounding. It transcends all barriers, giving you that rare tranquillity in this chaos. You can’t put a magnitude to a friendship; it is horizonless. I wonder that when we swim in the ocean, in that singular moment of peace; we leave all that weighs us down there and the ocean welcomes it all; all our weight, without any question. In a friendship, you are given the crushing responsibility of someone’s trust and you welcome it; limitlessly.
I am also fascinated by how randomly we start a friendship, how we choose a random person to be friends with. How you make a friend when you are just sitting in the classroom, a person walks up and sits beside you because no other seat was empty, how you strike a conversation with the person sitting behind you because the topic being taught in class doesn’t make sense to both of you, how you form a very close bond when you share your lunch with someone, how you start a friendship when you eat your bench mate’s lunch because they don’t like it and a friend once told me that their friendship with their best friend started when both of them were making motorbike noises as they were looking for seats in the classroom on the commencement of a new school year.
I think friendship is driving up a road without any map, hoping you don’t get lost; you don’t know if the road ends; mostly you don’t know where it starts. You enjoy the journey because the person on the passenger seat makes it worthwhile.
Most of my friendships are a direct product of sharing notes and registers and the birthday party that my sister and I host every year. I don’t know if these are common or uncommon ways to start a friendship but they work quite well for me.
My most recent search on the internet reads “friend meaning.” The result defines a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection. I have been mulling over how I define a friend and how I see friendship for quite some time now. I also think about whether my perspective of friendship changes if I think about different friends of mine and does it change with respect to the time I have spent with them. Do I have this perfectly thought about the definition of a friend? To find a definition of a friend, I asked around 38 people, “how do you define a friend?” and these are the responses I received.
I think you are not really fond of your friends, you like the version of yourself you can be in front of them, you can be your unfiltered, real self in front of them, you give up the act of pretence in front of them.
I am yet to find my own definition of a friend, it might be a mix of all these definitions, or something entirely different. I believe to define is to limit, and Thoreau believed that “The language of friendship is not words but meanings.” For me friendship is maybe not something that can be expressed in words but through memories:
- It is a Sunday in summer, my sister and I are cycling with our neighbour, moving in circles around our colony, laughing loudly and the heat has no effect on us as we finish cycling and head towards our home to drink ice cream soda.
- My friends and I are sitting in the classroom, the bell for recess has just rung, we take out our tiffin boxes at an instant, share and finish the lunch, and then fight with each other with shapes made of foil.
- The first time my friend visited my house, we had a lot to eat, and there were three of us. Three plates of snacks were entirely eaten by the said friend.
- In the colony park, where the grass was cleared recently, twelve children gather, play cricket and badminton, exchange their school stories and then eat ice cream together.
- Now that we have made a WhatsApp group, after two years, our phones will not stop buzzing until it is 2 am and everyone is sleeping, we will repeat the same cycle for many days.
- We have met after two years, a lot has changed, but we meet with the same sense of warmth, think a lot about what to order and eventually end up eating each other’s food. All of it.
- Both of us hosted a birthday party. It was a good evening, and the people invited were good. It was enjoyable for all, so let’s start a friendship now.
- We were close friends four years ago, we moved and were not in contact very frequently, you changed schools and we ended up in the same school and in the same friend circle, again.
I am the designated listener of the group in my friendships, I am the person who knows more about someone than anyone else in the group. I am the person who is called at 2:00 a.m. in the night to rant about things. I am the person whose calls with their friends last a minimum of fifteen minutes.
As much as I think that friendship has a sound of laughter and the undertone of joyous moments, as much as it is about sound, it is also about the absence of sound. Friendship is a comfortable silence, it is being able to sit together in complete silence without an exchange of words. Friendship is also about vulnerability, to be able to cry in front of your companion as easily as you can laugh in front of them. It is about knowing a person completely and still having the same respect towards them.
Friendship is happiness, it is feeling the sun on your face, it is listening to your favourite song after a long day, it is finding a chocolate when you thought they were finished.
Friendship is sadness, it is the melancholy you feel when your best friend leaves for a new city, it is the distance between you that no amount of messages can bridge.
Friendship is confusing, it is eating pizza with a fork, it is ordering a lime soda with only salt, it is chewing the straw instead of drinking from it. It is the confusion created during bill splits.
Friendship is the sense of familiarity. It is knowing your friend’s house as well as you know yours. It is knowing that your friend will wait for you if you stop to tie your shoes while walking.
Friendship is annoying because your friends will click embarrassing pictures of you and make WhatsApp stickers out of it. They will remind you of your most embarrassing moments.
Friendship is suddenness. It is finding your friend in the traffic jam and saying hi to them, it is your friends turning up at your house without prior notice, it is your friend giving you a surprise.
It is every emotion, and with all emotions, you experience every aspect of life, good or bad, in a friendship.
I am good at sustaining friendships, over ten or three years, through letters or without talking for months. I have sustained friendships through knowing the fact that I will share the same sense of warmth with my friend, even if we meet after six months.
I often think about telling my friends that we should talk more frequently, but we are too busy figuring out our lives, we are too busy being humans, which sometimes takes a lot of strength. I am worried sometimes, about if it will all remain the same even after a lot of time. So I remind myself:
Friendship is like the ocean, with calm and violent waves but it is boundless, unfathomable, infinite, astounding.