Opinion | Taking one for a friend

Swarna Tamrakar

Swarna Tamrakar

Opinion | Taking one for a friend

Swarna (in pink) and her friends

My friend Asmita Pradhan and I run a room on Clubhouse called “Official Pandheri Guff” where we choose different topics and give the floor to the audience to put up their opinions. In one session, the topic was: “How far will you go for your friends?” In the discussion, a member of the audience reversed the question and said “I wish to share a story about how far my friends have gone for me. I was never a believer in friends forever, but after one incident, I feel I am blessed to have a couple of real good friends who stood by me through my most difficult time.” After that the entire conversation was about how grateful we all are to have great friends.

Everyone knows the basic principle of good friendship is being there for each other. Helping and supporting during tough times. Being partners in crime. We all have done stupid and unbelievable things for our friends. Having stated the basic principle of friendship, I wish to draw no lines on who can be a friend. It could be your sibling who you grow up with and share most of your time with, it could be Peter Parker next door who looks after Mary Jane as a friend, or it could be your mentor who listens and believes in you when you give up on yourself and start self-doubting and pitying.

I called up a friend early in the morning and asked him to define friendship for me as I was writing something along those lines. And he very simply gave me a one- liner, “Friendship is a strong ship made by friends to sail together in the course of life.”

It takes time to build any relationship. Friendship also takes its sweet time to mature and strengthen. When we meet someone, the person is only an idea. And it happens to be a great one-dimensional idea. But we need to understand that people are not two-, three-, or four- but multidimensional and some dimensions may not be desirable. The different sides could be their flaws and imperfections. Sometimes due to the imperfections the idea might lose its value, but other times people accept those imperfections and move ahead together.

There are a lot of discussions about how friendship works differently with people of different genders. For men, friendship might be defined differently to how women define it and vice-versa. In spite of that, friendship can grow beautifully and platonically between two different genders. Personally for me, friendship is never binary. I have friends from different shades of the spectrum.

In the process of appreciating and showing gratitude towards the presence of a true friend, most of the time, the attribute everyone points out is the patience to listen. That might entail venting about your toxic relationship, a controlling boss, or not-so-understanding parents—we all need that one friend or set of friends who will listen to the entire thing without passing any judgement. In my opinion, we all want someone to listen to our stories. Stories of achievement, failures, heartbreaks; gossip, backbiting and everything that goes in our lives. 

Sometimes we seek validation for some decisions we make. If you know your friend/s closely, you might not get the answer you seek. But you still know they will give the answers which will be the truth or the right thing to do. If you look around, your true friend will be brutally honest, tell you the truth and will take care of you after you get hurt by their words.

Friendship might be differently handled and built over the years. A friend should understand and know how to support unconditionally even if it means being there just to hear you for hours without saying anything or being the partner they need to sort out things. 

If you have one friend you are lucky, if you have a set of friends you are blessed. As for me, to say I am blessed would be an understatement: the four decades of my life have earned me a beautiful set of good friends. I consider them a family that I chose. I have practiced the art of saying “No” for things that go against my nature. Despite that, for a few of my friends, I might not murder anyone, but I will surely get the shovel to dig the hole.