If I were ever asked to talk about what pulled me through the most difficult times in my life, I would say without a moment’s hesitation that it was the gift of friendship. While I have had a few ups and downs like everyone else, and a life that is more in line with the average than the extraordinary, friends have been the (often untapped) source of strength, courage and the small beam of light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.
The recent months have been eye opening in more ways than one. While nature chose a location of its pleasing and decided to unleash its fury, therein teaching many valuable lessons, hope turned to despair, and I looked at life with a new perspective. The worst part of any disaster is the aftermath. No matter how prepared we are for the inevitable nothing comes close to the real thing. The after effects of that could have turned one of two ways. It could have made animals out of people, the self preservation instincts kicking in, eyeing another man’s food and shelter as one’s own. But instead, it became a time when every man became another man’s friend. Kindred spirits joined hands. Race, religion, class and every thing that mankind invented to divide themselves losing to the only force that united everyone – humanity.
Chennai – the city that always spread its arms wide for all people no matter their age, sex or nationality disintegrated within days. Carefully constructed hopes and dreams were shattered and blames were thrown to and fro, people trying to pass the ticking bomb before it burst in their faces. But ultimately, friendship won. All other emotions took a backseat as strangers became family in the metamorphosis process called friendship. Chennai and its people rose as one, proving that, yet again, no matter how many lemons life handed everyone, it could be easily squashed to taste!
On a personal front, the losses and hardships that came my way, were like drizzles compared to others’ blizzards. But at the end of the day, I couldn’t deny that they were my personal hurricanes. The family I had chosen for myself, the people I had chosen to have a connection with, pulled me through. It was simultaneously hard and easy to believe that the casual talks over common likes grew into something deeper, more meaningful, finally leading me into a world of like minded people I had broadly classified as ‘friends’.
“I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let’s face it, friends make life a lot more fun.”
Charles R. Swindoll
A broad classification does no justice to the emotions or the people behind the label of ‘friend’. But all traits associated with that particular relationship are positive ones. To give without expecting, to care without complaining, to cheer without spirits dampening and to do many things that a family just might not, or would not do. One of the most common misinterpretations of a famous proverb is perhaps, the answer to every doubt about friendship.
“The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb”
I really love how ‘blood is thicker than water’ was automatically twisted to be used as a proverb that praised familial relationships. (How is it assumed that the ‘water’ in this line meant ‘friends’ is still a mystery to me). While I have got nothing against family, having been blessed with a great one myself (and also might be one of the reasons why I appreciate friends more than I normally would), this misinterpretation that in itself presents the totally opposite meaning never fails to amuse me. And if I were to honestly assess my life, I would have to say that there were many times when I felt that the blood of the covenant was, indeed thicker than the water of the womb!
“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
I have felt blessed for many things I have been given. But the one thing I would value above most other things would be the friends I have been lucky enough to get, the friends who showed me who I am and who I should be, the friends who stood by me through thick and thin, constantly reminding me that my life is indeed, blessed and beautiful!