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Jul 1, 2012

F.R.I.E.N.D.S - II

“Lot of people will want to ride with you in a Limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down”

- Oprah Winfrey

Dear Riddhie,
This kind of continues from where I last finished talking about friendship as an important lesson and an integral relationship in life. (Read HERE). I am sure, by the time you will be ready to read this letter, your definition of friends and friendship would have undergone a sea change (perhaps more than a few times, who knows).
The picture below reflects a time when you were not even 2 years old. Ayah happened to be your best and perhaps only friend then. This set of pictures was taken on the Saturday of June 09, 2012. Ayah and you wore a similar dress and had fun playing and dancing and fooling around in the house.
Ayah and Riddhie
Ayah & her family moved to California shortly after and we saw them off at the Newark airport. Saying a goodbye was not easy since your mom had become quite attached to Ayah’s mom. Personally, if you ask me, I am not sure if they will be able to meet anytime soon now but your mom and Ayah’s mother both have been trying to stay in touch over Skype or web chat as and when they can. Their fondness and care for each other surpassed time, distance, religion, ethnicity or any other demographics that divided them.
And this is exactly where I want to begin on the subject.
Over the years, you will come across many people that you will want to bring home as your ‘friends’. I already talked to you in my previous letter to you about the three friends you can and should rely upon (HERE). But if you are still unsure, let me share a quick test that you can do and know if or not you should trust someone to be a friend
1. DISRESPECTFUL OF ONE’S OWN PARENTS: Take this as an early check. A person who is disrespectful to his own parents, can never be trusted to stand for you in your times of need. You might want to differ here and cite the reason to be an indifferent or a callous parent but no matter how you see it, even a bad parent would have kept awake on nights attending to his child’s food and hygiene needs. Someone who can not appreciate what his parents do or did for him can never see through your efforts or how you stand for him. My advise – see this as an early sign and stay clear.
2. WATCH OUT FOR UNLOADERS: Is your friend a whiner who seeks you as his/her personal therapist and only comes to you for unloading his/her set of problems? Do you actually end up listening to this person’s sob story every other day for a similar set of issues that he/she has been carrying for weeks or months? People who seek you as a vent for themselves will never have enough courage to stand up and back you up when you are down and out yourself – simply because their own issues will never end. Call them garbage unloaders and run before they pull you down in the dumps with them.
3. MEAN TALKERS/LACKING DIGINITY OF LABOR: Does your so called friends mock another person’s job or take a dig at how someone dresses up at work or simply feels that a certain piece of work or trade is too lowly for him to do (I am not talking about being a drug peddler but say a bus driver maybe)? If yes, show them no mercy and kick them out.
My child, I will perhaps talk about the need to have dignity of labor in a separate letter. But for now, on this subject, let me tell you that, one thing that I have learnt from my father – your grandfather is that when you don’t see a door, you can’t sit back and wait, you need to roll up your sleeves and pick a hammer and slam a window in the wall on your own. If you are too bothered about sweat making your clothes sticky, it won’t be long before you find yourself in tatters. 
4. ONE WHO GIVES YOU A REASON TO LIE: I think I have told you something like this elsewhere before as well. The test is simple, if at any point in time, your so called friends get you in a situation where you have to lie to save your skin, you clearly are in wrong company.
As on this day as I type this in, even though you are not old enough to understand it, I promise you one thing and that is no matter what the subject is, I will always make myself available to you to hear you out. I promise you not to make an opinion or try and correct you (though it will be way too hard for me) if you tell me that you just want me to listen. I am willing to hear out the agony of your acne break-outs, your break-ups, your peer issues, your crushes and everything else under the Sun that you feel like talking and I promise not to make a fuss or be judgmental about it.
In turn, all I expect you is to be honest with me and speak the truth. Nothing more. If you feel compelled to cook a story because of someone else, you clearly are going astray. Remember this, I am one person who saw you even before your mother did and your name is marked on my being till I die. Maybe with age I will become a little senile and gullible and I will believe a story you tell me. But, if you can go back and sleep peacefully that night when you lie to me, you will have already lost me as your friend.
5. ONE WHO GIVES YOU A REASON TO NOT BE YOUR OWN PERSON: You, dear, are unique in this world. There may be more than a hundred billion people on the face of this Earth but you still are your own person with your own reference frame, your own thoughts and your own actions and hence you are responsible and accountable for your own decisions. The world we live in just has two kinds of people – those who are awake inside and those who aren’t.
You need to realize the world and its material aspects are necessary but there is a superior goal to this life as well. A person who no matter how loyal, sincere or trustworthy is as a friend, if he makes you compromise on your individuality, is not worth even crying for.
Having said all above, let me tell you one more thing. At the end of it all, you will probably find yourself a little alone. Stay humble, be fair and be the sunshine you wish to see every morning. You may not get a thousand followers but trust me, the ones that you are left with after filtering others out, will be the gems that you will cherish forever.
Live within your heart, it’s a huge place to fill.

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