The word ‘ Friend’ has different words in different languages The Iranian call a friend ‘Dost’, German word is ‘Freund’, Hebrew language has ‘Chaver’ for friend, French people call friend ‘Ami’, Dutch word is Vrend and Mexican ‘Amigo’ and so on. But Bengali ‘Bondhu’ seems to be the best of all to me probably because I am a Bengali.
Friends help us as we walk through life. Some are loose, some tight, and some fit just right like the shoes. If we make friends with stupid people, we may feel much clever. But it is said that you would better go to Hell with a number of wise friends than to Heaven with a number of foolish ones. Good friends are more than philosophers, they guide us. There is no sorry said, no forgiveness asked, no apology if true friendship occurs. Albert Camus made it clearer than many others when he defined friendship: “ Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend’.
In politics friendship is very much uncertain. Today’s friend is tomorrow’s foe. In business, friendship is purposive based on material consideration. People of some nations are friendlier than others. The Americans make friends easily and break friendship with a greater ease. The British are very much conservative in opening their minds and once they become friends; it is not that fragile as that of the Americans. These are all guess works of the Indians. Americans or British – men having various moods and temperaments become friends under certain circumstances. The mystique of friendship is very difficult to decipher.
In marriage, which is a social more than a heavenly bond, friendship is more important than love. Friedrich Nietzsche said: “ It is not lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” Writers get their creative ideas in their gossips with friends. It was natural that besides good books, Mark Twain wanted only good friends for his happiness of mind.
But as this modern age of machines advances, friendship, which is chiefly based on human values almost necessarily declines. Good friends are rare. There is motiveless malignity of Iago depicted by Shakespeare, but friendship in our time is very rarely without motives. We need friends, yes, but not those friends who climb the trees leaving the friend behind when the bear comes for kill.
True friends are not easily found, but life is an awful and ugly place not to have a best friend. Today, the word best friend usually means ‘fiance’ or ‘fiancee’. But husbands or wives are rarely good friends in the story of long sharing. Life is a long journey, and we need true friends to make the journey comfortable. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, is indeed a friend who cares.
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