The other day my friend Praneetha and I returned together from a wedding and decided to spend the rest of the day at her place.
In the midst of an animated conversation, the phone rang and Praneetha went out to attend to the call. She was back in a jiffy, saying most indifferently, “It was my husband on the line.”
“Was it something important? I hope you did not end your conversation abruptly on my account?” I said with a sense of guilt.
“Oh, don’t be silly! He wanted to know if his client Deepak had come after his lordship left for office. I said ‘no’. That’s all and there was nothing further to talk,” she said, sounding impatient.
After a pause I asked, “But Pranu, doesn’t your husband know that you too were away at a wedding in the morning? Even if his client, or anyone for that matter, had come during your absence, how would you know unless the person had left a note?”
“Come on, why do you look so troubled when I’m not in the least bit bothered?” Pranu frowned.
“You have still not answered my question. Did you or did you not tell your husband that you would be away at a wedding?” I insisted.
“O.K. Well, I did not tell him,” said Pranu, shaking her head.
“Had you forgotten to tell him?” I persisted.
“Oh Lord, what kind of a friend do I have,” Pranu sighed, “always wanting to know the truth? Alright, let me be frank, I didn’t forget, but I deliberately chose not to tell him that I was attending a wedding,” she said, without batting an eyelid.
Seeing my shocked expression, she snapped, “Do you expect me to tell him where all I go and what all I do without being asked? For that matter, he too doesn’t bother to tell me anything about his social life, nor do we discuss our problems or confide in each other, though we have been married for over a decade now.”
It took me a full minute to digest what Pranu was saying.
“But Pranu, don’t you, me Hari and Manju discuss everything under the sun when we meet and also confide in one another? And come to think of it we’ve known each other only just over half that time,” I said exasperatedly.
“But that’s different, silly. You are forgetting that we are friends and not related to each other,” laughed Pranu.
“Even a husband and wife can be friends, if they tried,” I told her, but what I saw was her look of disbelief. “They can not only be friends, but the best of friends,” I persisted.
“How is it possible if their interests are different and natures are divergent?” Pranu wanted to know.
There are many like Praneetha, who think the world of their friends, oblivious of the fact that true friendship is something that does not happen overnight but evolves over a period of time like any good relationship. Strangers become acquaintances and, over a period of time, some of them graduate into true friends and remain so, their different natures and outlook notwithstanding. They are prepared to forgive their friends’ faults and forget a bad turn and try to justify their actions in the name of friendship.
We tend to play up the positive and underplay the negative in a friend. There are heated arguments between friends, but conscious of the fact that “we may win an argument but lose a friend”, we stop from going too far and accept someone as a friend with all her/his faults. Any relationship, be it between a husband and wife or between two friends or two persons related by blood, if it is too smooth sailing it is bound to become monotonous.
Like Tennyson’s Brook, disagreements and aberrations notwithstanding, friendship goes on forever.
Lastly, friendship does not believe in status or colour, nor are there any clashes of ego between friends. Likewise, if a husband and wife bear in mind all these essential qualities that go to make true friends, the couple can be the best of friends and also act as one another’s confidante. To achieve this, all that is needed is patience , perseverance and tolerance.
N Meera Raghavendra Rao