I was talking to a colleague the other day, B, about how love and friendships are best done at school. Their is a certain level of pureness, a simplicity, a lack of awareness about the other person. You just click, with another person. I feel, its like a jigsaw puzzle thing. Two pieces just join and if they don't fit, easily separate away.
Growing up, people start accumulating baggage. We start becoming more aware about the society, perceptions and most importantly the importance of having a stereotype of a friend. Like, someone who is good for my career, or someone to vent out, or someone to share liquor with. We start forming our friendships (its an over abused word, friendship if you ask me but that we will discuss another day) according to set parameters. Like its good to have a rich friend and not good to have a too poor friend. Sudama and Krishna do not happen in 2018.
Slowly as we grow and ease into our society, parameters keep piling up. Even in educated, well qualified people, I feel the reek of casteism. Duryodhan doesn't befriend Karna in 2018 for his talent or skill. He will sideline him for his cast. Its important to hang out with the right people you see.
But the most interesting aspect, I find is how often we bring our past into present relationships. Here I will narrate a story (keeping real names confidential for privacy concerns) of Zahra. So Zahra met this guy at work and bonded well enough, for two people who work long hours at the same place. I am calling this guy Mark. So Mark and Zahra are these cool new gen people who admire each other professionally and personally but can't be friends. They have a lot of common interests but friendship is simply off the table. If you meet them today, you will find them engrossed in a deep conversation but they will introduce each other as co-workers working in the same building.
Zahra's experiences in the past, sets off the alarm bells ringing whenever she is in close proximity to Mark. She tells me, that if Mark would just go away someplace far, it would give her so much peace. Her past has forced her to set boundaries so stiff with Mark, that she herself feels suffocated at times. She admits that she is at ease with Mark when sharing things, she wouldn't share with anyone else. And Mark has been nothing but a thorough gentleman to her. "A kinda ideal friend with anger issues", she tells me.
Mark is known to me as well. He is those kinds who will blabber and posture to hide his real personality. As humble as Zahra (a great commonality) he is a simple ordinary guy. Just another working class guy, trying to scrape a position for himself (in his words, miserably failing at the same). He too shared his story with me, which is remarkably similar to Zahra.
He has had a series of failed friendships as in the kinds where you see betrayals by your closest friends. So much so he, had switched cities to avoid a face to face with his former friends. "Do you trust Zahra?" I asked him, when he told me his interactions with Zahra. "I don't want to." "But I do, and that's the problem." "It makes me so angry, makes my blood boil." He told me. I am quoting his words verbatim to you so you know where he is coming from.
Now here I have, two people who could have been, good friends, for they have a mutual respect, a mutual trust, common interests, etc. Who knows, maybe they could have tried healing each other in distant future. But pop comes in the baggage of past, which they have tied to their heads and ankles. Which will not let them move forward, only motivate a step backward. And just hurt each other more. A hurt no one will ever see. Perhaps a story teller like me, but whose interest is only in the story. A hurt they won't show to anyone. Just another silent suffering, one among, many others we face all the time.
Not all stories end this way. Or even happen this way. But a similar pattern is often observed. You will see so many probable friendships being ruined because people just stop talking to each other or avoid each other. The trust factor, people so talk about is also a baggage from the past. Our past experiences tell us, why trusting people soon is not that wow idea.
I myself don't like to label everyone I meet as a friend. The no. of friends I have, I can count on my right hand's fingers. My past relationships has taught me to be careful and patient. As a writer, and an enthusiast of words, I find it uncultured to label every working relationship, acquaintanceship, a chance encounter as a friend. You have to be a Krishna to a Sudama. You have to dig that depth, cultivate that meaning for a relationship to be classified as a friend. And trust that even then you might get it wrong. They all might come at my funeral, but how many will hold my hand at my sickbed?
The baggage of our past, has some important learning for us. We cannot ignore them and should never ignore them. But it can be a burden for our future or present relationships. If you see the other side of it, starting all over again, with a clean slate is a hell lot of work. And so very uncertain.
What do you say? Would love to hear your thoughts on this.