Friends are the those who can read the silence amidst a cacophony of words. Friendship is like a cog which, if it goes missing, can bring our entire social machinery to a jarring halt. Friends provide an indispensable stability, along with that extra bit of happiness that makes life more interesting. Call them what we may – buddy, pal, comrade, ally, bro, dost, bhai, yaar – genuine friends wear multiple hats, and can conveniently slip into any role that the situation demands. Of course, they come in different shapes, sizes and avatars, which is what makes their presence in our lives appealing.
The occasional friends are the ones who talk maybe once a year and meet even less. They may not be in touch with each other or even reluctant to meet, but will know everything that is happening to other friends. When they do meet, they behave as if we met them just a few days back, and naively continue conversations that ended when we last met them over a year back.
The philosopher always espouses famous thinkers and writers, mouthing their quotes with gay abandon. They usually send us a well-intentioned quote as their good morning message on social media (a wonderful habit as per me), but remain silent when any other debate is on. Another version of the species are the ones who try playing big brother or sister in all gatherings, and offer unwarranted and usually incongruous advice. If no one is willing to listen, it is possible that they may turn to talking with plants and conversing with walls.
The loquacious friend is great company – mostly for themselves! They can talk till the cows come home and then some more. They will invariably, with their limited knowledge, debate on everything under the sun. Once they start talking it becomes most difficult to stop them – not even putting their foot into the mouth can silence them. But most of them are ingenuous and extremely easy to understand.
The taciturn friend is the exact opposite of the above-mentioned specimen. Their answers to questions asked of them are in monosyllables, and their silence is more irritating than the movie Race 3 (an incredible achievement in itself). They prefer to jab at their cell phones (even at blank screens sometimes) while in a gathering, hoping that no one will come around to making awkward conversations with them.
Drinking buddies are loved by all and sundry. They meet with the sole intention of getting sozzled in the company of other friends. But it is fun to be part of this group – juvenile poetry, silly philosophy and puerile jokes flow as freely as the liquor. Except a few sober friends (one of who is the designated chauffeur), no one in this gathering understands, or even wants to understand what is going on. The whole atmosphere is one of “high” level discussions that seem to go nowhere, ending up in some “spirited” arguments, but good fun nevertheless.
All of us aspire to have a 2 am friend – and the lucky few among us even have one. They are the friends we can call at a bizarre time of say 2 am, and have a perfectly normal conversation, without her or him getting angry about being woken up at such an unearthly hour. This is that friend with whom you can share almost anything, without inhibitions and that too without being embarrassed. Such friends transcend the normal parameters of camaraderie and go into a realm that redefine the established frameworks of friendship.
School / college friends are the best to have for company. This is a story that never ends – friendship that begins in nonage and continues through dotage. Lack of time or vast distances separating them does not matter, for they will remain in touch irrespective. Just as in my case, I got back in touch with friends, 25 years after we finished schooling (thanks to social media), and continued our friendship as if none of us had ever gone incognito. These are relationships that last a lifetime and revive wistful memories of a forgotten childhood.
Whatever their shape and size, friends are an indelible part of our lives. They bring succor and relief when we are going through tough times. They make us laugh and cry; irritate, vex, comfort, encourage and guide us while lending a strong shoulder for us to vent our grief on, and in general make our lives worthwhile. Some of the best moments in life come up when we are in the company of friends. I would like to conclude with this beautiful quote on friendship I came across some time back – Good friends care for each other, close friends understand each other, but true friends stay forever… beyond words, beyond distance, beyond time!