One is born with relatives but we make friends in life. We do not have a choice to choose our family or relatives but we do have an option to choose friends and so we do. My experience in life has taught me so far that relatives are generally less reliable than friends. I do not want to generalise that all relatives are non dependable or all friends are dependable. After all both relatives and friends are humans and they are bound to err like all of us.
I was born in a lower middle class family and my father was a central government employee. While I was born in Trichy, Tamil Nadu, India, I have grown up in different parts of the country. I have had the privilege of living in east, north, south and west of India. Even as a child I have seen that family friends were more supportive than relatives. The true test of reliability is not when you are doing well but when you are in distress.
I have experienced in many such occasions in life when I have gone through a bad patch. Way back in the early eighties, I lost my mother and then within two years my father was on the death bed with a kidney failure. It was mostly friends who supported me financially and emotionally rather than relatives. As I said earlier, there were some close relatives who helped me too but the selfless help came from friends.
Today I remembered these friends because I was in Bhubaneswar to attend the marriage of a friend’s daughter. I started my career in a steel plant and grew up with a group of young friends from different states of India. Although we belong to different states and speak different local languages, we have been together and in touch for more than three decades. We have not met many times during the course of these thirty years but something somewhere strikes a chord between us even today. We do not miss an opportunity to attend any marriage or other social functions in each others’ families.
As regards relatives, they are inherited in a way with your family. They are with you and support you in ways they can. However, as you grow up and separate they get into their own world. If you do well in life , they still connect with you and seek your help too. However, if you are in distress, many of them may forget you or feign ignorance in times of need. As I stated earlier, it is not fair to state that all relatives are like that. Some of them have been of great support to me in my life and I will ever be grateful to them.
I recently attended the alumni meetings of the graduation classmates and post graduation mates. Both of them were nostalgic and we could relate to each other as if we had just passed out of college. The bohenomy was symptomatic of our unconditional relationship. We shared our joys and sorrows and when in need everyone was eager to help each other.
I would just like to emphasise that friends are forever and we need to nurture and cherish those relationships. Relatives are inherited and we need to be in touch and keep a respectful relationship. If they behave like friends, then we are lucky butif they don’t we should never regret. After all some friends also may behave in abnormal ways after being in touch with you for years.
As in the photo above, three of us are friends for almost four decades now.
Let friendships last forever
S Ramesh Shankar