When I was much younger, my mum explained to me how they used to pick a sakhi (सखि), which means a friend for life in Hindi. In this day and age of cynicism (and often with valid reasons), we may think its idealistic to have a 'sakhi'. Some people are lucky to still have friends since their childhood, while others could have friends from university, work, a holiday, a wedding, a retirement home, supermarket and so on. It doesn't matter when, where or how. Befriending someone could take a couple of hours of realising commonalities between each other or it could be a much slower adoption from either side, when after a number of years you realise that you must be friends if you're still talking to each other. However, it often takes several years of being alive to learn what kind of friendship you have or once had with an individual.
One of my best friends gave this to me, while we recovered from a break in our own friendship. This saying, amongst few others, has stuck with me for a very long time.
I don't necessarily believe in categorising friendships, but when looking in hindsight, sometimes it could help clarifying what purpose certain people served in our lifetime. Have certain individuals already served their purpose in your life (Friend of Reason) or were they there during a phase of your life (Friend of Season) or have they been through various phases of your life and for whatever reason... are still there (Friend for Life)?
The friendships from my childhood probably fall under the 'seasonal' category as there would have been times when we thought we would always be friends. But people change with time, as do our priorities and thought process. For instance, when I met my best friend from primary school after 15 years, it wasn't what I expected. I had this weird feeling of closeness, yet acknowledgement of the fact that we have become completely different people and wouldn't exactly call ourselves 'friends' anymore (I'm pretty sure the feeling was mutual!).
We experience constant flux over the years, which for me became more apparent between my late teens and adulthood. Whether its principals, beliefs, opinions or even the definition of a friend, everything changed and I started to fine tune my ideas on what was important to me.
Whether it's a reason or season, it's important that we accept that sometimes relationships including friendships have expiry dates. Some friendships gradually fizzle out, while others can be more dramatic and painful for one or everyone involved. There could be situations where the foundations of a friendship have been broken (intentionally or unintentionally), and despite individual or mutual attempts to fix them, in some cases, things can't be the same. The friendship is dead. However, what I have learnt from these experiences is that we need to stay clear of two things:
1. Blaming the other(s)
2. Blaming yourself
Neither works or helps the situation. Instead, we can make peace with what is and 'compartmentalise' (I love this word). We can put that friendship as a pleasant memory (of the times that were good) in a virtual 'box' and accept that it no longer is. Only then can we focus on any lessons we have learnt (if applicable) and carry on with life, making and investing in the people and relationships that we still have in our lives, as well as ourselves. We can make 'change' work for us.
RECIPE & ingredients:
Difficulty level: Moderate
Preparation time: a lifetime
Serves: minimum of 2 persons
Instructions: try not to forget the ingredients.
The list above is not unknown, but we could benefit from reminding ourselves about these once in a while to see if we have been a good friend to someone close to us. We don't need to beat ourselves over it if not, but we can make an effort to make some positive changes going forward.
I am fortunate enough to have a handful of 'sakhis' or in modern terms 'besties'. If I had to describe them in my own words, they are my rocks. We know we're not there for each other for just a reason or season, but for life.
We shamelessly step into each others lives to find solutions, we don't judge, we encourage the other to move on (even if it means we'll see less of them), we dance like looneys on nights out (cue: chicken dance), we fight with others for each other, we don't blame or intentionally hurt one another. And if we do, we apologise and we forgive and make amends if needed. We grow together.
Apart from my family, in moments of joy and crisis, we are each others' support group. As mentioned in my article on 'Life Hacks', teachings by Tara Brach, an author and teacher of meditation and self-awareness talks about 'Sangha' i.e. good company could help you grow and be happier.
moments & Memories
When 200 Whatsapp notifications don't bother me, or when I'm on the phone to a friend for four hours (especially when I hate talking on the phone), I know we must be close.
I have random funny memories of my best friends like when my friend walked into our offices to look for the culprit who wasn't nice to me, so that she could give them a 'piece of her mind' (wearing bright pink trousers and a parrot green top, obviously); or when me and another friend opened our first can of beer at 10am on the train to Brighton and ended up missing the last train home; or when some of us ran around in heavy rain like children in the City of London.
The point is that sometimes moments or certain signals tell us who we are close to at that point in time. Whether it's for now, or forever, we can feel a close bond with someone and we may want to spend more time with them, unless and until things change...
Meet some of my 'sakhis'...
We live in three different continents: Asia, Europe and Africa, but it doesn't feel like we are far away. When we do meet in person, it doesn't feel like we have 'missed' each other, but I often need to do a double-take, mid-conversation, to remind myself that they're actually sat in front of me. It's like a solid, independent long-distance relationship. One of them told me, when she was leaving the UK, that she refuses to say 'Bye' as we will see each other very soon. And we make sure we do...