ONCE A FRIEND,
ALWAYS A FRIEND?
Story: Padya Paramita
Cover art: E R Ronny
Case 1: There were two boy who were the best of friends. They shared everything - from comics to school tiffin. Best friends since they were five, everyone was pretty sure nothing could ever tear them apart; they would be friends for life. Then one fine day one of their families moved to a different town. They were still very young so they didn't have cell phones. They stayed connected with their landlines for a while but eventually they forgot about each other. Now, they have each other added on Facebook, but their relationship is nowhere near close as it used to be. They barely say a word to each other once a month.
Case 2: In the busy hours of life, two soul sisters are still in touch despite one of them living abroad. It's not as if they talk and meet a lot, but the moment they do - which only happens if they are lucky - they pick up where they left off. It's never awkward between them because they have a telepathic connection and find it really easy to fill each other in on their lives. To them, distance has never mattered. They have been friends as long as they can remember and find that can they confide each other no matter how far they live.
They say your oldest friends are your most trusted ones. Well the reason they are “old friends” is because they belong to a previous era of one's life. But they are still “friends.” So how do you keep in touch with these friends once you are no longer able to see them as much as you used to?
A sense of awkwardness is obviously created if you see a friend after years spent barely even talking. It's much easier to be in contact with old friends than when our parents had to depart from their friends. Most of our parents barely meet their school friends, unless they were extremely attached. This writer's father can recall the names of one or two people from his class. Her mother only meets them at reunions once every two years. These days we are no longer hindered as our parents were, thanks to technology - Facebook wall posts or chats and of course video calling through Skype.
Most people agree that a certain commitment is required to keep in touch in the long run. And by that we don't mean two lines of “What's Up?” and “Not Much.” Actually talking like old times, still having that connection and that bond that existed previously. It's a common story - friends moving apart; talking for a couple of weeks and soon finding solace in the new life and eventually forgetting old friends.
When asked whether it is possible to stay in touch with friends who they have not seen in a while, most people immediately say 'yes' without giving it much thought. Nobody seems to believe that despite Facebook or Skype, awkwardness is always inevitable if people don't put in the extra effort to stay in touch and keep things relatable.
Lamisa, who now studies in India, says she found a lot of people immature when she came to visit Bangladesh during her vacation. “Even some people I was relatively close to before leaving. And more than that, it can seem a little dull, like there's not much that can be offered by those people.” But with others, who didn't give a vibe of awkwardness, she could still reconnect. “I feel as close as ever, still enjoy their company immensely. It's extremely difficult to maintain the same level of closeness, especially if one is out of the country. You move on, life changes for you, while your friends are stuck in the same environment... you just don't see eye-to-eye after a while. You still get along with everyone but you'll only remain close to a very few. Sometimes, yes, if you were on the same wavelength all along, then it's the same when you see them again.”
Some people do find it difficult to reconnect with friends who are no longer part of their lives. But just those words - “no longer part of their lives” - show that it's because they have accepted defeat. If one actually has the will to still be friends and trust one who has left, it's very much possible.
Sarah, who still talks regularly with her friend living in Canada for the last three years found it hard at first because the latter was busy with her new life, but they continued talking, and settled into a pattern eventually. “Despite how sceptic people are about long distance relationships and what not, if it's meant to be then it will last. And by 'meant to be' I mean, both parties have to believe in the relationship, like we did.” She adds, “It's like, just because you are studying abroad, do you stop talking to your sister?”
It is definitely tough to reconnect with a friend who was detached from you during your childhood and missed your growing years. It becomes difficult to discuss certain secrets with the friend because you just can't be sure whether this person is still trustworthy or not.
Then again Iftekhar, whose best friends also live in Canada, says, “It worked for a while. We tried to stay connected through Facebook for a couple of months. We talked about school and what's up with teachers we made fun of, the school events. Then he moved on to study engineering, I got busy with stuff here, and now we chat about once a week. Not the same any more. The saddest part, last time we talked on the phone was when he called me from the airport before he left.”
Lots of people however have this one best friend who lives a thousand miles away. It is possible for the relationship to be ticking in the same way as it was before. The brother of a friend kept in touch with a friend from school for eleven years despite going abroad and now he is living with the friend. Technology can make a lot of difference.
Reconnecting with old friends should not be considered a duty or something you do just for the sake of it. It should arise out of genuine interest and care for a friend. It's definitely difficult, but far from impossible.