Unfamiliar Friends

There are many friends around us. We are unfamiliar with them. Let’s unravel them to appreciate their importance.

As I was browsing through the chapters of my childhood, one of them stood out. "Friends." Perhaps due to its peculiarity and distinctiveness. Coincidence, if you may call it, around the very same time, the celebrations of 'Friendship Day' were going on in full swing. My daughter was coming home every day, almost for a week, with 10-15 friendship bands and rings! Happy to have so many friends and hell-bent on making more. Good for her, I thought.

My chapter on friendship is, I must admit, a little different. Of course, it includes my friends from school, neighbourhood, college, tuition, university and so on and so forth. But it reaches beyond that. It is inclusive and expansive in its own way. It nourishes and nurtures itself out of every life experience that it encounters. And before I sound poetic and redundant, I’ll try to explain what I intended.

A baby's leg on the side pillow
I would like to call my rattle, my mini side-pillow, and my first ever mittens, my earliest friends. They offered a distraction and gave me comfort when I needed them the most. At a time when I was unaware of the real cause. And unable to verbally communicate it.

My nanny too, for sure, is a friend. She walked into my life when I was barely 14 days old. And though she lacked the finesse and musical talent of Maria von Trapp (Remember, the governess in the movie The Sound Of Music?), she overshadowed the character in her earnestness. I can hardly tell you when from a mere help, she became a friend. These, I believe, are the subtleties of friendship. You don’t even know when it is forged!

When I was nine or ten years old, my father brought home a pup. Milky white, soft, feathery and my new living toy. Again, when was he promoted from my playmate to my confidante, I have no clue. His blithe presence enlivened our house. He was a source of joy to all. That’s how a friend should be...right?

And why just animals? What about our green friends? Not just the declarations of science textbooks and environmentalists, but through actual sensations, we can feel the friendly presence of plants in our lives. In my school days, I was in the habit of watering my little garden before boarding the school bus. I can’t tell you how much energy and happiness that 15-minute exercise gave me! The way the plants swayed and greeted me was by no means less than the embrace of a person doing the same. The unsaid, I gather, is more powerful than the said.

The leaves of a plant

As the line between the unsaid and the said blur, books emerge as my best buddies. I do have my favourites, but mostly I am open to exploring the unread. I actually have a friend who has shortlisted a handful of books. She runs to them, the moment she is lost or low. I share similar vibes for my fictitious friends too. I love them, I hate them but I insist on having them. They talk to me and I’m all ears to them. They are not just an escape or a company but a portal. Through them, I get to live many lives in this life of mine. The other day itself, I was yearning to become an Akhila, the protagonist of the book, Ladies Coupe by Anita Nair. Like her, I wanted to look for the answers that define a woman’s existence and establish her wholeness.

A pile of books

Oh, the cup! How can I miss it? The cup in which I have my morning tea, the framed stitch work that I once made in school, the romper in which I first held my child, the photograph albums that hold countless memories, the window beside which I sit down to read are just a few more of my friends that I would like to acquaint you with. And why wouldn’t I call them my friends? They generate within me the very similar feelings that a friend does. Warmth, well being and most importantly, a sense of belonging.

There are other kinds of friends too. For instance, I found a friend in the never-had-spoken-before neighbour who exceptionally helped me the evening my father met with an unfortunate accident. Again, my students have become my friends. Our lives unpredictably criss-cross among themselves to build bonds that go beyond the benches and into the beautiful. Even the phlebotomist, (I, too, just discovered the word as I was trying to write about it!) who assures me that my mother is on her way to wholesome recovery, is a dear friend.

There is, however, one friend, who clearly defies the very authenticity and implication of the word 'friend'. According to the dictionary, a friend is "a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations." But she is family. The cause of my being. My mother.

She is there as the arms that hold me, the ears that listen to me, the eyes that follow me, the lips that caution me and the hand that shapes me. More certainly, the presence that accepts me and the heart that believes in me. Each day and every moment. This friendship never had any terms. It outshines any other by its unwavering and unconditional essence. Someone with whom you can share anything without being judged is a true friend… don’t you think?

Now, how many unfamiliar friends can you think of? Familiarise me with them. And let us thank them for all that they are worth by simply acknowledging them as our friends.

By: Promita Banerjee Nag

This article and the opinions expressed in it are personal opinions. It is not meant for imposing specific views or endorsing a particular way of life. Also please do ignore any errors or omissions that you might come across. We pledge to learn from them. Happy viewing.


  1. Well written and such recall of friends happen in everyone's life.

    I have rejoined with my school and college friends after about 4 decades.

  2. Very nice topic. I could connect so well and made me remember so many friends.

  3. Extremely well written and relatable. Kudo!

  4. Really well adorned article. Love the useage of vocabulary

  5. I must say the pictures are remarkable

  6. 'To share without being judged...' - 'concerned but unperturbed'... Keep expressing!


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