Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Evolution of friendship

I was in final year of undergrad when the movie Snehithiye came out. My friends and I thought it was a decent movie and good entertainment. The movie was soon forgotten but one of the messages from the movie was oft quoted by us even much later.

Tabu, who plays an inspector in the movie, comes to an all-girls college as chief guest for some function and tells the students that it is very easy for women especially to lose touch with their buddies from childhood and youth. Saddened by this prediction, then and there, the two female leads make a promise to be a part of each other's lives forever.

When I watched that movie, my first reaction was: "Hey, that is true. While my dad is in touch with his close friends from the old days, most of my mom's close friends are the wives of my dad's friends." It turned out that this statement was echoed by almost all of my other female friends. Then and there, we friends too made a pact to always be a part of each other's lives.

Immediately out of college, this was an easy thing to do. We had nothing better than to do than to keep in touch anyways! Thus every happening, big and small, in each person's life was shared in depth. Emails, instant messaging, phone calls - there was no dearth of communication. So much so, I took it for granted that my friends would tell me *every* single happening in their life in real time. I still remember getting extremely upset because a very close friend did not tell me about an important event in her life as soon as it happened.

Anyways, the first year out of college, I think my friends and I hogged most of the available bandwidth on the internet, on telephone lines and everywhere. In spite of being spread across two continents and thousands of miles, the bond was still there. I thought back to the Snehithiye dialog and thought, "Um, this is so much fun. Why did anyone make a big deal out of keeping in touch."

Towards the end of the second year, slight cracks began to appear. Everyone had more "responsibilities" (however you define it), and though news was still shared, it was no longer with the same limitless abandon as before. The network of people I was very regularly in touch with became smaller. But the ones I *was* in touch with - oh we were on call 24/7 for each other. Life was still good.

Then, somewhere towards end of year three, some of my close friends no longer seemed to be "0n call" for me all the time. Though I knew I could still count on them, I felt hurt by this sudden demotion. For the first time in my life, I started thinking twice about calling some close friends for fear of "intruding". And o boy, was I unhappy about this development. What had happened to us? I nevertheless still tried to keep in touch as much as possible - email, phone calls, everything - I saw wanted us to go back to the good old days. I missed it so much.

Then some more years rolled by. Initially I could say with a clear conscience that in case any communication stopped with any friend, it was due to lack of response on the other side. I would *never* be the person who did not reply to an email or who did not call back.

Time went by. One fine day, I guiltily realized that sometimes I was the one who did not respond. I wanted to, but somehow did not. Oh, I met up with most of my close friends a couple of times a year and we caught up with news often enough. But the constant communication was a thing of the past. I felt guilty but then...

Now I think I have finally reached the stage I have dreaded for so long. I have come to accept that frequent and daily communication with close friends is not something which is going to start happening magically by itself. Though it seemed so at some point, just because we are "friends", it does not automatically guarantee constant involvement. Everyone is busy with their own lives. Maybe this is another symptom of growing up - I don't know. The saddest part is, I no longer feel sad or angered by this realization. Because I myself am "busy" you see.

Don't get me wrong here. As I have said many times before, my friends will always be one of the foundations of my life and that is something which will never change. Friendship should grow and evolve as the persons in it grow and evolve - that after all, is a sign of a long-lasting relationship.

That knowledge still does not stop me from sometimes thinking back to the days of unbridled, joyous, no-holds barred friendship. Those times, I wish I could turn back time. It was not so long ago after all.


Anita said...

Interesting. I guess the people who are involved in your day to day activities are the ones who live in the same city as you. Since you will anyway be meeting them often enough. The good thing is with the really close ones, even if you speak to them infrequently, when you do speak to them you realise that all major news in each others lives just get updated quickly without any hesitation. So they may not be available to go and have coffee with you on a bad day at work. But they will be available when you are going through a major crisis.

vishesh said...

:) my last few months in skl...:P

Altoid said...


Very apt observations. This seems to be the pattern for everyone. Its also that sometimes you grow out of some friends. Probably you reach a different stage in life where your thoughts and idealogies dont sync up like they used to. There's a disconnect.

And then there are those that even when you catch up after years, it feels like they never went away to begin with.

Very interesting topic!

SK said...

Awww, a very nice post Arch. I have noticed this with soo many of my friends as well, although I do try my best to keep in touch with them, and maintain the same tone of talking from good old times, somehow times change, and they just drift away.
So many more things change when you get married, you wait and see!

Laksh said...

Nice post! I have seen change in my friends and in myself. And the set of friends also evolve. Most of it seems to happen with life changing events like marriage and kids.

Joy said...

You spoke heart and mind of every girl :) Very true. I completely agree with Altoid too. There is one thing though, for any friendship to last, we have to constantly maintain it even if there are life changing events.

Anand said...

been a silent reader here for sometime.. this is one post i can relate to.. not only female friends.. it happens in the other case too.. i think thats part of everyone's life.. everyone's priorities change and so does people who we interact and care for too.. :)

nice post.. made me a little nostalgic about my college days.

Saumya said...

How true! But you know the feeling that you can meet again, and start off as though there was no gap in between with some friends is the sweetest feeling in the world.

J said...

Very True, Archana. Nice post. I can relate too.

long time, how are you doing?

Altoid, totally agree with you.

Archana said...

Sindu - That was my point - earlier it was very easy to be highly involved with a friend's life in spite of geographical considerations - the miles simply did not matter. But what you say of close friends is so true - you always pick up where you let off without any realization of a break.

Vishesh - enjoy it :-)!

Altoid - I like that phrase, "grow out of some friends" - perhaps that's the reason I have not been able to articulate when I find myself with nothing to say on meeting again with some erstwhile good friends.

SK - ah, the "wait and see" stmt :-)! At some point I guess everyone involved just decides to not make much effort.

Laksh - I guess it is just a symptom of growing older (and more mature?) - not sure if it is necessarily related to life-changing events.

Joy - oh ya, for sure! Friendship needs nurturing too!

Anand - welcome aboard and thanks for delurking:-)! Priorities change is right.

Saumya - of course - there are some friends whom I can meet after ages and yet start talking as though I was continuing a conversation let off an hour ago. That feels soooooo good!

J - thank you :-)! I am doing good! Enna, no new post on your blog?