Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Friendships aren't always forever

This is the third in a series of articles dedicated to school-going kids, written for the GUYS AND GIRLS section of Ceylon Today.

There are days we look forward to. End of term days. End of year days. There are also days we don't look forward to. End of school is sad. Always. You spend 12 years there, after all. 12 years is a long time. You're not going to go back. That's why you're told to make the best of it. Yes, you may not like it at times. But think back. Are you going to have those days again? They may not be pleasant. But like them or not, school days are not forever. For us, they'll always be the best years of our lives.

I mentioned end of term and end of year days. Those are happy days. They begin a short interval after which you start with a new face and a new year. New books, new bags, nearly everything new. But not everything's rosy. It's also a new class. With new teachers. New friends. It takes some time to adjust, doesn't it? Yes, it's still the same old school. And a month isn't enough for everything to change. But a lot can happen during a holiday. Friends can change. Yes, friends. You spend 12 years with them. You see them everyday, talk with them, grow to like them, and in the end, separate. Sad.

But life's like that. People come. They go. They come back again. And they go away, sometimes forever. Same thing with friends. One moment you're talking with them. They like you, and you like them. Suddenly, overnight, they meet other friends. It's not that they don't have time for you, just that they don't have time enough for only you. That's natural. That's life. You come together and you break apart. Doesn't mean they hate you, doesn't mean they'll forget you. The quicker you realise this, the more lovable school life will be.

Some people, however, don't realise that easily. They want old friends, having spent too much time with them. There's no harm in this. But when you devote much of your time to one or two people, you always expect the same sacrifice from them. It just doesn't work that way. I have come to believe that you meet the same person at least twice in your life. Now imagine how many people you have to meet. How many people you have to meet again. Wouldn't it be tiring for the same person to talk with you over and over, endlessly?

For some, therefore, school days are rotten. End of term days are sour. When the new class begins, they look behind to see whether their "bosom buddies" still remember them. They go to other classes and talk with them, hoping that old friendships won't die. They don't, but the impression you get when you see old friends talk with unknown people isn't very nice, is it? So new terms and new years turn sour. Children can get sad, easily. That's what happens whenever and wherever old friendships die.

Nothing stays for long. Everything changes, again and again. Friends are like that. It's not that they begin to hate you, but that this world is too big for any one friendship to continue without other people. Even bosom buddies don't last long without others coming in. That's natural, and hardly anything to get sad for. Kids, however, don't always see things this way. They want "best buddies" for themselves. Usually, the older you get, the more you come to understand how impossible this is.

That's one thing. Here's another. People change. What they say at one time may be different to what they say at another time. You may think you've got that one person in the world who agrees with you no matter what. You may be right at one time, wrong at another. The thing is, even friends don't stick with what you say every day. They can think. If you expect them to follow you whatever the time or wherever the place, you've got it wrong. People rarely stick their necks out for you. Mothers do that. Fathers do that. Friends don't.

Does this mean you shouldn't befriend anyone? Hardly. It's not always beds and roses with friends, true, but it's not always thorns and weeds either. You need someone by your side. 12 years is what we're talking about here. You can't be friendless always then, can you? It's easier to be without friends outside school, when you leave it and move on with your life. I know people who've forgotten, who don't remember names when I tell them and who've willingly let go of school-friendships to such a level that they just don't care whether they remember or not. That's bad. Friends aren't forever, true. But forgetting them because of this isn't the answer.

Bonds break apart, and whenever they do, nothing's the same again. Time will always tell whether friendships last. They usually don't, of course. You'll meet old-time pals some day. They may or may not remember your face. If they don't, don't scowl. Same thing at school. There are those you'll befriend thinking they'll stay with you no matter what. They may even be in your class every year, due to fate or luck perhaps. Still, they won't stay with you always. This world isn't small. There are other faces to get to know, other stories to listen to. If there was only one story to go with in this entire world, it would be dull, wouldn't it?

T. M. Jayaratne once sang a song about bonds and their breaking apart. It begins with these lines:

අප හමුවුවත් නොවුනත්
කාලය ගතවී යනවා
අප තනි වුවත් නොවුනත්
ලොව එක සේ පවතිනවා...

Whether we meet or not
Time passes by
Whether we're alone or not
The world goes on...

Faces and bonds are made and remembered, hence. They are also forgotten. But they stay with us. And with them, or even without them, the world continues. Nothing wrong there. It's a big world, after all.