Dushmani jam kar karo lekin ye gunjaaish rahe
jab kabhi ham dost ho jaaen to sharminda na hon
These two lines come from Bashir Badr on friendship but start with dushmani or hostility.
Friendships have been the crux of many a folklore, movies and books.
Characters and their bond of friendship is etched in our minds, whether it was Veeru and Jai in Sholay, or Mowgli and Balu in Jungle Book or Pi and Richard Parker, the tiger in the life of Pi. This unique relationship with its strong and complex nuances has been part of our lives from time immemorial.
I remember my childhood friendship with a boy no older than I was in our apartment complex. We were surrounded by kids all older than us, which meant that we weren’t included in the ‘older’ games. We spent hours on the balconies of our homes, playing games and making up stories.
As we grew older and my family moved away from the apartment complex, a whole new gang of friends appeared in my life. Yes, we were a gang, and a feisty one at that. My mind space was occupied with stories of Sherlock Holmes and Watson, Astrix and Obelisk, the Secret Seven as well as Hardy Boys. And we lived these stories on the streets around our homes.
Imagine nearly a dozen kids taking over our neighbourhood, using every bylane for a game of Lagori, cricket or simply running like the ghost was ready to swallow us. Summer meant that the gang took over the roof of the biggest house, to enact. plays, perform different kinds of dances and even have a fancy dress competition.
Supporting us in this was the sweetest neighbourhood family of brother and sister, who allowed us the use of their house and the adjoining roof. He was in retrospect my first confidante, mentor and friend, although a good 20 years older than most of us.
But these memories are interspersed with episodes of bickering, tantrums and bossiness(that was intended for me). There was sibling rivalry being played out as well as budding romances and the usual suspect called jealousy. Thank fully the adults stayed out this and were told to manage our own affairs.
These were my teenage years and today I remember them fondly, including the first red rose and Archies card I received.
Now, I find my self surrounded by very few people who I call friends, not as large as the gang that I was part of in the past. Friendship today means being someone’s sounding board, talking, sharing a cathartic moment without the fear of judgement or prejudice. It also means listening to excerpts from their past, a story they haven’t recited in a long time. Talking about anxieties, ambitions or the food we dislike. Appreciating, encouraging, cautioning and sometimes cajoling .
Of course, laughter and humor are a big part now. I often say, that when I start sharing situational humor with someone, we have reached the threshold of friendship.
These relationships transcend age, time and status. Like a moth driven towards the light, individuals find themselves at the threshold of each others friendship, getting linked in a bond that can’t be justified or explained.
After these nice rosy words, I want to talk about the nemesis of friendship. Resentment, envy and jealousy.
In the Mafia world, there is a code called the Omertà, it refers to maintaining absolute silence when questioned by law enforcement on the subject of alleged illegal activities by other members of the mafia. This can result in one member “taking the fall” for others, or even taking sole responsibility for a crime that others committed.
This code of silence, total commitment and clannish behavior exists in many friendships. A sense of moral protection from the nemesis lurking around. It serves friendships it times of strife, and in many ways stops the lousy cycle of back biting and gossip. It is unspoken and understood by every one entering the gang, that we protect, defend and shield our own.
We may bicker and disagree, we may have arguments and have varied opinions, but that is among us, a sense of Omertà.
In the words of Javed Akhtar this week.
Jidhar Jate Hai By Javed Akhtar
Jidhar jaate hain sab udhar jaana achchha nahin lagta,
mujhe puraane raaston ka safar achchha nahin lagta.
Where everyone goes, there I don’t like going,
Traveling on old roads I don’t seem to like.
Ghalat baaton ko khamoshi se sunNa haami bhar lena,
bahut hain faayde iss mein magar achchha nahin lagta.
Listening to false words in silence, agreeing to them,
there are many benefits to this, but I don’t seem to like it.
Mujhe dushman se bhi khuddari ki ummeed rehti hai,
kisi ka bhi ho sar kadmon mein achchha nahin lagta.
I have expectations of self respect even from my foes,
Seeing the forehead of any individual on my feet, I don’t like.
Bulandi par unhe mitti ki khusboo tak nahin aati,
ye woh shaakhen hain jin ko ab shajar achchha nahin lagta.
At the pinnacle, the smell of the earth doesn’t seem to reach them,
These are the branches who don’t seem to like even the tree anymore.
Ye kyon baaki rahe aatish-zano ye bhi jala daalo,
ki sab beghar hon aur mera ho ghar achchha nahin lagta.
Why leave these matchsticks, burn them too,
They all are homeless, and I have a home, I don’t like it.
I want to end this post with an iconic friendship from the silver screen: that of Andy and Red. So many powerful moments within the movie have earned Shawshank Redemption the cult movie status it today enjoys. But mine has to be when Red finds that money waiting for him underneath the stone.
Would he find something left by his old friend? What would that be? Will be feel abandoned or will Andy lead him towards….all these thoughts cross your mind as we see Red making the journey.
For all those based in Bangalore, here is an event that might interest you, a dastangoi recitation.