A few weeks back, I had an argument with an acquaintance over how we don’t chose friends based on their bank balances. I told her (I’ll call her X), friendship like love, knew no boundaries like money, class, gender and such. While she conceded that it may sometimes be the case in love, she vehemently denied that friendship was entirely unaffected by meaner human mores and conventions. She told me I was naive and idealistic. And then she left me to munch over these questions –
Did I have any super rich friends?
Much as I tried to remember even one, no.
Did I have any poor friends?
Uhhh… much to my shame, I discovered, no.
Oh to be sure, there are variations in how well-endowed one is from the other, and to be sure I have friends from different countries, different backgrounds and religions too, but NONE in the above two categories!
So what did that mean? Was she right? That friendship is affected by these boundaries of caste, class, gender, nationality that we humans have created?
But first let’s go to the root of what friendship means. I’m not talking about those 500+ connections you have on Facebook, Twitter, what not; the ones you haven’t even seen, neither heard from in years. I’m also not talking about those who you interact with on a daily basis while you’re at work, or at school, college, or at whatever keeps you busy, unless you hang out with them every so often, because you like to hang out with them.
I’m talking about those people who you are close enough with to call them in the dead of the night for an emergency. I’m talking about those who are first and foremost in your list of ‘I wanna share this with someone‘. It, friendship, means different things to different people.
I, for example, am a very private person. Trusting comes hard to me, making friends is harder still. So for me, the distinction of being a ‘friend’ goes only to those with who I have shared moments, days, years, tragedies, joys and such things for a considerable length of time. Or if I haven’t spent much time with them, then they have a certain je ne sais quoi that has forged a strong friendship. That means my ‘actual’ circle of friends shrinks down to a very minuscule number of people. Everybody else is just an acquaintance, or a co-worker, or a neighbor, or another title, but not a friend.
To be sure, I found plenty of folks in the above mentioned categories who were just acquaintances, or such titles, to me. But it was in that minuscule circle of friends that I searched for people from extremely well to do, or well not to do backgrounds. And I couldn’t find any. Nil!
I might sound like a pompous prig, but I was genuinely surprised because my choice in friends was never consciously made keeping their status or their bank balances in mind. I am friends with them because they clicked with me, they have the same experiences and the same, for want of a better word, ‘sameness’ as me. They feel familiar, un-alien… comfortable.
Did that mean that X was right after all? That we, consciously or unconsciously, gravitate towards people with who we share similarities, in terms of social status, backgrounds, nationalities, or even something as mundane as a ‘bank balance’?
You tell me, dear Reader, is Friendship in reality, confined by such boundaries?
Have a Pensive Wednesday!
Copyright ©2017 by Pradita Kapahi.
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Image Credits: http://letsbefriends.blogspot.in