My Dear Friends,

Dr Navniit Gandhi
Sunday, December 29, 2019

You are so many out there that I could not write to and share a thought with each one of you in person. Hence, this open letter…

However, I remember each and every one of you distinctively and happily!!!

Each one of you has a distinct place in my heart and world. Yes, there are some of you who were in school with me and we shared many a tiffin and scrawled on many a benches together, while also took the action-packed journeys from school to home together on the never-can-be-forgotten paths, for several years.

And, hey, a warm ‘hello’… to all my friends from junior college onwards right up till date; our gang of girls which numbered 9 when it began and then gradually has shrunk to five of us now. Yes, we do meet once annually and have a rocking time!!

And then, oh dear, how can I not wave (literally) to all my friends from the college in south Mumbai wherefrom we did our diploma in Advertising!!!

And yes, of course, I do call out to you too—my dear colleagues from college and my dear friends with whom I grew up in the neighbourhood. Do you remember how our respective Moms used to hold our little index finger firmly in their hands and chat for long with each other, oblivious to we wagging our tongues out at each other in order to solemnly check on whose tongue were the purple hues darker (courtesy: the colourful lollipops)!

A warm ‘hello’ I say to the special ones with whom life crossed paths at critical and unexpected junctures and they became good friends.

And then, my dear friends, given to me exclusively in and by Kuwait!!! Fortunate am I that the initial period when I felt lonely on coming here was firmly put aside by one-after-the-other encounters I had with some lovely people who are my good friends in Kuwait.

Yes, it is to all my dear friends that I write; in fact, it is from all of you that I seek answers to a few questions plaguing my mind. I could not have written to each one of you, and yet, I know that it is from one of you that my answers shall spring and calm my a-bit-frayed nerves.

Am just a bit confused… Who are we exactly now at this juncture of life? Friends? BFFs (Best-Friends-Forever) or FBBs (Friendly-But-Busy)??? Or, are we just plain acquaintances who make up a large circle or network and feel good looking at the sheer size?

Yesterday, in one of the groups, it was one former classmate’s birthday and one other classmate came to know of it via FB and wished her, and lo…behold… all started to follow suit. She received no less than 40-45 wishes. But, nobody, I presume, must have called her with a simple desire to talk or to listen to her voice after all these years... By the way, whatsapp calls are free! We are connected on the groups but not so connected so as to spend the same one minute which we do in searching for and sending a forwarded birthday picture-message, as in pressing on the number and wishing in person. I wondered in the day as to how many of us actually spent a moment thinking of her or remembering her and smiling or sparing a fleeting second and uttering a prayer for her. I wondered how many of us know her last name or the name of her husband or kids or even know if her parents are still alive or not?

Is all of that unimportant and am I being unnecessarily silly and sentimental…??
But it matters to me! It does! It leaves me perplexed! I feel lost; feel confused when picture-messages and videos sent by friends say lofty things about love and friendship and in reality, the very same friends have not one minute to spare for casual pleasantries… sometimes not even once a year!

If we really are happy when someone shares pics of their getaways and vacations, why do we just have to always send a thumbs-up and that is all? At least, to some of us, we could make a one-minute call and share our happiness and his/hers!

I know bonds can survive warmly in our hearts and meeting isn’t that very important but still we can attempt meeting a few times---at least, if we live in the same city! Can’t we? How many of us have met and how many times in the past one decade and more? Do we ever remember and call a friend, just like that, for a minute, without any reason whatsoever? Just on a hunch? Just to know how is someone living on? Just to bring that smile on a so-called friend’s face, whose inbox we otherwise bombard with dozens of jokes, and tik-tok videos. About how many of us do we really know that he or she has been lately having sleepless nights? With how many of our friends have we spent sleepless nights in hospitals when one of their parents was seriously ill?

In the past one decade, how many visits can we recall, when we made and took food for our friends because he or she was in despair? Or we dropped in to their homes unannounced and insisted on having tea with them because they were down and out. Or, when the friend was out and away, how many of us spent a few minutes with his or her lonely parents or siblings or kids?

How many of us know the names of the kids of how many of us? Sans the FB, how many birthdays would we able to recall and how many such days would matter to us?

Are we friends indeed? I do not know…

I know all of us are busy; that all of us are rushing day and night; that time is less and our to-do lists are growing longer and longer… but then we do manage to find time for frivolous and silly forwards on whatsapp and on FB and we also plan get-togethers for months and sometimes do succeed in meeting once a year or once in two years at rocking and crowded places and have food, drinks and fun! And then we return home, deeply satisfied that we have a huge ‘circle’ of friends and tick mark one listing on our to-do list…

Yes, all of us do have an inner circle; friends who when you say hello on the phone—are able to instantly decipher if all is good or not; those for whom it matters as to how you are! They cry when you do; they console; they fight and shout if you do not heed to their advices; and they even know the dates when you lost your loved ones and send you comforting words early in the morning before you open your eyes on those dates… Have you not such friends? Well, if all of us cannot be such friends to all of us, we could, at least, be in the next grade wherein we are not that close and intimate but we still ‘care’ and we show a few times that ‘we care’.

I wish, though, that we earnestly try and divert those few precious minutes, when we surf aimlessly, or peer curiously at what is the whole FB world upto or who went where and with whom on the weekends or those minutes when we nurse heartburns at the sparse comments or likes we have received over our updated statuses and DPs. If only… If only those precious seconds could all be added and divided amongst our friends; if we could call a friend or two and say something pleasant in our human voices or better still, arrange time and schedule in order to regularly meet up with a few and best still, visit ailing parents or lonely siblings even in the absence of our friends at home! Aha! How welcoming the diversion could be!

I miss all of it, dear friends and hence, I take recourse to the pen…
I often anxiously wait for a friend or two to call and talk; I await a comment or two on my writings by friends who I think would understand what I have got to say; and I wait just like that for a friend to unexpectedly call and ask how am I on one of my blue days. I do not want to see and read forwarded pics and messages on Birthdays and Friendship Days and New Years and Deepawalis and on all the other important days but I get them all the time and very rarely, is there a simple one liner: ‘how are you?’ from one of you… But the day I get that, I feel excited for I know then that a friend remembered me for a moment and therefore asked! On Birthdays, I wish the phone to persistently ring and so that I hear the chuckles and wishes and better still, get hugged in person!

Meanwhile, let us play a game! Let us count that with how many are we BFFs (Best-Friends-Forever) and with how many are we FBB (Friendly-But-Busy)??? Those of us who have fewer names in the first category and a lot in the other one, will lose the game and must compensate for it by calling more often and ringing many a door-bells of all of us and spreading joys!!!

What say, dear friends???

Dr. Navniit Gandhi is an academic, a feature writer and an author. Her publications include several academic papers presented at National and International conferences/seminars, nearly 250 feature articles in magazines, newspapers, and on web portals, two e-booklets and nine Books. Presently, she teaches at Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and counsels and conducts training workshops at Gurukul, Kuwait.
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Express your comment on this article
 
Lakshmi
Monday, December 30, 2019
Will call and tell you 😆

Cheryl Fernandes
Monday, December 30, 2019
Nice through Dr. Navnitt. Really I’m in the second categories. I have more than 100 friends on my FB and so many groups in whatsup but none know each other pain. I will make few calls to get in touch with my lost close friends and that’s a New Year resolution.

Neetaj
Monday, December 30, 2019
Straight from heart as always from you Navniit.... definitely losing the game, guilty on many counts here but will surely make some amends in 2020 and beyond....a thoughtful call is all that it takes....

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