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Part 2: What is love?


‘Har ek friend zaroori hota hai’ (But is everyone we need our “friend”?) – This oddity of today’s generation hits me so hard that I sometimes feel as if we know the difference between what a friend is, and what an acquaintance is.

Friendship is love. That love is one of the most celebrated facets of our life. We experience it daily, get used to it, and take it for granted so much that we only realize its value once we don’t have it or once we can’t have it back. With the advent of virtual social networks, we are always connected. WhatsApp, Facebook, and Google open avenues for us to stay in touch with people we usually wouldn’t even be able to interact with on a one-on-one basis.

But I firmly believe that ‘Friendship,’ at its most profound crux, will always hold the same meaning that it has adorned for centuries since and centuries hence. But definitions change, and I cannot write a reference material for friendship here, so I will write about the six kinds of company that I have experienced as yet in my life (All are numbered because they all come to mind and aren’t in any specific order)-

  1. Friends with whom you have something in common, a role model, a TV series fandom, a shared experience, or similar interests

This is the kind of ‘no demands, no expectations’ kind of friendship. Where you have one string (or a multiple few) that keep you loosely strung together, it doesn’t imply that the company is not deep, though. You get each other’s references related to those common topics, and you can spend hours talking about them.

But when brought together, you might not be able to take the friendship to the next level, or if you’re lucky (or unlucky, considering how it turns out in the end), you might hit it off brilliantly and become closer friends, finding more things about each other, and broadening your friendship.

  1. Friends with whom you share intense friendships for a short burst of time

We all have had that one friend with whom we thought we’d always share the same company equation. And what has happened today? What changed? Why did it change?

Sometimes, the reason behind something happening is not as important as the fact that it happened. The sooner we accept the reality, the sooner we can cherish what we had instead of trying to recreate it. I don’t know why it happens. But these are the friendships; when we are in them, we share a deep understanding and comprehensive knowledge of the other person’s life, their core beliefs, and their aspirations, and we get so involved in the friendship that we believe this is what true friendship is like.

Partially, it is true, though. This is what true friendship is like, only if it is a permanent condition with unwavering intensity. But that is just an abstract thought. Life always throws us twists and turns where we must choose; forks occur where people must separate. However, that in no way lessens the import of the moments we spend together, the secrets we share, the unfulfilled promises of being a similar part of each other’s life forever, and the illusionary future at which we stare.

So, if you have such a friend right now, give everything you can to the relationship. Because at the end of it, when the intensity decreases and ebbs, your friendship will inevitably remain a warm glow, but not the fire it is supposed to be, ideally. You don’t want to wonder at the end if things would have been different had you been different. Yesterday brought the beginning, tomorrow brought the future, and somewhere in the middle, we became best friends.

  1. Friends with whom you start excellent, but things fizzle out

Have you ever had a friend you thought belonged in the above category, but instead of the friendship aging gracefully, although rapidly, things went haywire in the end?

Welcome to friendships with great moments, but due to some fatal crisis or setback or a simple conflict of opinion, things are never the same as they were earlier. The defining reasons are stubborn and staunch beliefs from either party, an inherent difference in how we process things, or just plain, old misunderstanding. Whatever the reason, once the glass shatters, things are never the same again, no matter how much you try to put it back. We never really reconcile fully and entirely with them (even if we think we do); we only lock away our hurt and scars and pretend (sometimes, successfully!) that if we make enough sacrifices, the broken relationship can be mended.

Sometimes, it hurts because people leave you as you’re no longer as important to them as they were to you. They prioritize and figure out that you’re no longer a complication they want in your life, and they cut you off without any anesthetics; it is up to you to heal until the throbbing heartache is not sanity-threatening, but something you can live with.

But it is still a case of love, although a matter of love gone awry, which then is your choice, whether you want to bring it back on the right course and set it in the direction it was sailing earlier.

  1. Traditional Friendships

Difficult to describe in words, these friends bring a smile to our faces, making daily life charming in their unique ways.

We all have these friends, and without them, simply put, life is a lonely, lonely journey.

Examples include –

That one friend who hugs you when you see them because he knows you need one, and you are too shy to ask for one.

That one friend who, the moment you see them, a smile comes on your face automatically because you know, no matter what happens, this friend will be there for you, and at the end of a bad day, you can always unload on them.

That one friend who, the moment you see them, you know you are not alone in this world because he has the same set of beliefs that you have, and should ever some people tell you that you’re weird, you have someone who’s equally strange and has got your back.

That one friend who, the moment you see them, makes you laugh by sharing a funny anecdote or a slapstick joke mocking themself in the punch line, showing you how important it is to smile, be it at one’s own expense.

That one friend who, the moment you see them, calls you a nickname that only you and they share makes you realize that all it takes is one person to make your day.

That one friend who, the moment you see them, you can talk about any rubbish, and that waste will be discussed, dissected, and understood.

That one friend who, the moment you see them, there is no need to talk because everything you ever need to say, you’ve already said, and the silence is enjoyable.

There are innumerable instances, and you might have more unique to your life. and I intend to keep this article moderately short (or long works both ways.) So I hope you get the general idea.

  1. Friendships with Strangers

As dubious as it may sound, although the world is full of bad people, there are a few good people sprinkled here and there. They may not be good people in their own life through and through, but their role in your life only highlights some of their best characteristics.


Someone who works in the parking of a vast multinational corporation can steal your heart with his simplicity and genius talent. His job was to send us home after a hard day at work, and he was a case of eidetic memory (photographic memory). He must have had some mental technique of mapping a face to an address and efficiently sorting the cabs with the time and distance constraints in mind.

At the end of my internship there, I offered him a Cadbury Silk and said, “Thank you for sending me home safe and sound each day. This is my last cab ride this summer.” With a firm handshake and a kind of emotional insensitivity, yet heartfelt sentiment, that I have been unable to produce in my life yet, he said, “Don’t say last ride, sir. Every day, you came here late and tired, looking like you had given everything to work. It’s my pleasure to send you home to refresh and come back the next day. This place needs people like us. Rest assured, aapan pudhchya warshi parat bhetu.” (‘We’ll meet again next year’ in Marathi because he knew I was from Maharashtra, and so was he.)

There was also this one beggar who used to sit at a road crossing on the Outer Ring Road. I, not wanting to take a cab since the distance wasn’t too long, walked home for a month until I had to shift to a location where the space was just too much.

The first time I saw that beggar, I ate a KitKat since I had skipped lunch, and the look she gave me was pure hunger. I felt very guilty, as I had everything, and I was cribbing about how none of my friends back from my hometown contacted me and how I must be the most unlucky person alive. I have never seen anyone look so impoverished as she was looking that day, a small girl of maybe 10, who should have been sleeping in a shelter, safe and sound, that late in the night. I don’t know what came over me, but I gave her all the currency I had in my wallet that night.

This continued for the next four weeks or so, although I used only to give her 10 rupees each day. One day, I told her in Hindi, I don’t know whether she understood, that I wouldn’t be coming this way from Monday. The sweet, innocent girl that she is, on my last day, i.e., the next day, she bought a KitKat for me. It must’ve been a great sacrifice for her, and I was so happy that I teared up and walked ahead without saying goodbye. Where’s the good in goodbye?

P.S. : That KitKat I ate? It's the sweetest thing ever. It was enough said.

  1. A friendship that could have been more

There is a thin line between friendship and love. And sometimes, the more you think about it, love is friendship and something more. We’ll see more in the next and final part of this long and tedious tri-series.

I don’t know how many of you have seen ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ but there is a fantastic analogy of what I will say now that fits precisely with what I will try to describe briefly next.

For a quick update, you can refer to this section of Wikipedia.

You hope you find a love as extraordinary as Lily and Marshall. But sometimes, you find yourself as Ted instead, or if you’re lucky enough, as Barney.

This kind of friendship is the one that remains when the other person doesn’t feel something more or when you lose that something more.

Everyone has their own Robin, whom you love but cannot be with. And whoever you’ll meet, whatever you’ll do, nothing will be like it would be with Robin.

Sometimes, you must break away because you know you are not good enough. Sometimes, you don’t get close enough because she knows you are not good enough.

Sometimes, you see things are not meant to be, and you only want her to be happy. Sometimes, things are not meant to be, so she is happy.

Sometimes, you meet and talk to other people in a way that makes her jealous. Sometimes, she meets and talks to others, making you understand why she feels that way.

She is everything you want. The conversations you have, the total abandonment with which you talk to her, nothing held back, you envision a life together, you think nothing can go wrong until something does… Or something right doesn’t happen, and you stay what you are.

Just friends.

What follows is grief.

And the thing about grief is, [Source: Grey’s Anatomy]

Grief may be a thing we all have in common, but it looks different for everyone. It isn’t just death we have to grieve. It’s life. It’s a loss. It’s a change. And when we wonder why it has to suck so much sometimes, it has to hurt so bad. We must try to remember that it can turn on a dime. That’s how you stay alive. When it hurts so much that you can’t breathe, you survive by remembering that one day, somehow, impossibly, you won’t feel this way. It won’t hurt this much. Grief comes in its own time for everyone in its path. So the best we can do, the best anyone can do, is try for honesty. The crappy thing, the very worst part of grief, is that you can’t control it. The best we can do is to let ourselves feel it when it comes. And let it go when we can. The worst part is that the minute you think you’re past it, it starts all over again. And always, every time, it takes your breath away. There are five stages of grief. They look different on all of us, but there are always five -- Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.”
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