Best Friends Ever

The perils of “I cannot displease my Best Friend” syndrome has recently been illustrated by the indictment of a chief minister and her so called soul-sister. Assuming a hypothetical situation where we give the deceased chief minister (CM) the benefit of doubt of having no personal greed for ill-gotten wealth, the story could be presented thus – Past the prime of her movie career, a lonely personal life following the death of her mother and failed love affairs and facing political oblivion post her mentor’s death, she found emotional, mental and probably muscle-power support in her friend. Once in power, she felt obliged to payback her crafty bestie, who then goes on to amass unimaginable wealth and exert incredible authority over craven ministers. And in spite of repeated fallouts, their friendship survived till death did them apart.  Eventually as the Supreme Court judgment convicted both women in the disproportionate assets case, the only saving grace for the ex-chief minister was that she did not live to hear the judgment and would have probably defended herself in the grave saying – “All this ignominy for not being able to say “NO” to my best friend.”

But is this an isolated incident or something which can be traced to child psychology in craving for a best friend, where in some cases, one child is submissive to the other. A special childhood friend has been a constant motif in children’s literature and movies (Bolly/Holly etc). All those who have experienced the delightful world of “Swami & Friends” by R K Narayan, would well recall the protagonist’s equation with his two best friends. In this tale, Swami, an absolutely lovable character is dominated by his 2 best friends – Mani & Rajam. Completely in awe of them, he finds it difficult to counter or go against their wishes and this often lands him in trouble.

And do we need best friends?

Humans, and children in particular, naturally find themselves forming special friendships. My daughter’s school has the practice of putting her in a different section with a new set of children every year. Though initially she would miss her Best Friend of the previous year, she would quickly bond with her new classmates. So, probably this practice encourages her to have “lots of good friends” and helps avoid overly possessive relationships and upsetting fall-outs.

The alternative view as presented by philosopher Mark Vernon is that “friendship is an issue in a culture of democratization”. Humans are not wired to be democratic in their relationships and instinctively seek intimate relationships. By putting the spotlight on the negative aspects of close friendships, there is a possibility of emotionally stunting children and their experiences. Children or for that matter even adults may fall out with their best friends or get jilted/cheated, but somewhere they also learn to cope and survive socially.

And as parents, we watch and live through the tumult our children experience as their friendships become more complex, layered and emotionally fraught varying from extraordinary intimacy and bewildering cruelty.

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6 thoughts on “Best Friends Ever

  1. Friendship is something which cannot be confined within words description, it’s the feelings and bonding and love and so on…………………….. True Friends may not last forever and friends forever may not be true friends. Whatever may be the case, without friends and friendship a part of life remain void …………………………………… & friends are one of the reasons why teens everyday go to school and those who lack friends may not be interested for school.

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  2. I don’t think the example at the beginning is that of a friend. I look at that as a simbiotic relationship.

    For me its very simple. Friend is someone with whom one can share, ask, cry, laugh, fight, etc without second thought. I keep it simple without superlatives.

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  3. Both are good writing, vijaya.

    As per oxford dictionary, friend is

    “A person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations.”

    But, i think friendship is way beyond that.

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  4. Friend is an acquaintance to whom we can confide a bit more than we do to others. Friend is someone, whom we feel like talking to, when in distress. Friend is someone to whom we turn for advice. Friend is someone whom we can take for granted. It is not a one-sided affair. The other one should equally be interested. That is how friendship develops. Thus,friends always come in pair.

    The depth and degree of confidence in each other defines casual, serious, good, better and best, I suppose. In real life, I have seen my best friends are many. For good astrological decision, I have a best friend. For discussing romance, there is another. for seeking help there is one more. For going out for some fun there is yet another.

    But then comes that time when you are up against the world. They don’t seem to understand you. They don’t seem interested in you. They are just not there for you. And that is when you will need them most. That is when we understand….when it really matters, our best friend can only be our own selves, for no one can take advantage of one’s own self at the cost of one’s own self.

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