ESTRAGON: Don't touch me! Don't question me! Don't speak to me! Stay with me!
VLADIMIR: Did I ever leave you?
ESTRAGON: You let me go.
[Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot]
Whenever I think of friendship the above dialogue rushes to my mind. Friendship is an abiding presence primarily. Not physical presence. It’s an understanding that transcends physicality (don’t touch), emotionality (don’t question), and verbality (don’t speak).
There was a time, brief but excruciatingly protracted, when Joe, Nick and Larry were my friends. They ended up making me lose faith in humanity itself.
|Can't locate the source: from the vast ocean of Internet|
Joe thought that I had an eye on his wife. Then he thought that my one eye was always on someone’s wife. So, like a good friend, he reminded me of the tenth commandment. “You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife,” he quoted. I told him he was wrong. Friends can disagree, after all. I quoted the tenth commandment as it appears in the Bible: ““You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbour’s.”
Like a good friend, I drew his attention to the order: house, wife, male servant, female servant, ox, donkey, anything. The commandment was a blatant display of the Jewish priorities. The wife was just another animal or thing in that list. I was being a good friend pointing out to him the relativity of all truths including the revealed ones in the sacred scriptures. The “blasphemer” in me rattled his religious sensibilities. Like a good friend, he took it upon himself to proselytise me, to bring religion into my fallen soul.
Nick thought I was just an immature twerp who was hilarious fun to be with. He saw himself as the heroic acrobat in a riveting circus in which I was the clown in motley. He found an exquisite delight in spanking my bum with a splintered plank which produced an explosive sound that regaled the audience.
Larry was the typical missionary whose penetrating eye was perpetually stuck on the degraded sinner in me. By virtue of his social status which let him hobnob with people who matter in the society, he got a whole lot of people to work towards my spiritual redemption. They cut off my water supply, electricity supply and whatever else they could cut off including my self-esteem. I understood the value of friends or at least that of the society. Unable to put my understanding to practical use, I quit. Never turned back ever since.
Books became my best friends. If there were a god, he (I choose that masculine pronoun for sheer convenience; I know that a penis would be of as little use to god as would a vagina be unless our gods are those entertaining creatures in our ancient myths) would be the ideal friend. Seeing everything, he would be in a position to understand everything. Friendship is that understanding. Such understanding unfolds the universe within ourselves. Even as Einstein’s insights unfolded some of the mysteries of the cosmos.
PS. Written for Indispire Edition 181: #friendship
PPS. Not all people are Joe, Nick and Larry. There are a few who strive to rise to the divinity that makes a human being a companion. May their tribe increase! Let me also dedicate this post to all my friends including Joe, Nick and Larry.