Over the years a regulation that is so true and that I trust, is the fortune of having friends who are quite a notch above me, as persons- intellectually and as general human beings. To be peeved and be jealous of the qualities or achievements of one’s friends is as foolish as sky diving without parachutes, as trekking to the poles in your sneakers.. To be sequestered in a circle of friends or even acquaintances who are better persons than one, will only enhance one’s being and to think otherwise is because of the paucity of commonsense and the stranglehold of ego. Both can be detrimental.
I advise my children, A and R who are much charmed by the small number of my intimate friends, (as many as half as the fingers I have) that each one of them are notches above me as individuals and in their own distinct ways. They have been from the days they began toddling around as bundles of joy privy to the close relationship, bonhomie that I maintained with these fellows. Both A and R, was closest to one of the guys who was star-struck in himself ( ‘star –struck’ refers to a story, an anecdote referring him, I once mentioned in a Blog post on C’s gaffes) more than they were to us, their parents. And even to this day A is still joyously animated when he meets him- the hug and kisses..! Whilst R has developed a social restraint that probably age brings to girls. I and C used to once refer to him as the pediatric who lived with us (he was in my house on a transfer to my place of work for almost three years). And that was when he showed his deftness in babysitting and both A and R got so moonstruck by him,( girls generally are and also so he thinks even to this day). His late parents were immensely affectionate to us (me and the small circle we kept), in a way that they may have even thought of thrashing us as they did him. They were unique loving parents, and those qualities have been greatly infused in him. The help, the support which he and his demure wife extended me and C many years ago in a crisis was a life time apart, which ones very own siblings may desist and ignore.
I, once in a Post titled “An officer and a Gentleman” wrote a about another close friend, whose singular obsession and spirit has seen him become one of the decorated and dedicated officers in the Indian Army, and is now very near to the top of the pyramid - the hierarchy. It is certainly a matter of pride for me than for him!
And then the ever green unblemished boy old as I’m! He stays so even in his fifties. Modest and affectionate, and was my trusted pillion on many motorcycle diaries we could pen about. A modest, helpful fellow in his own silent way.
Fortunately, despite the intemperate attribute that subsume my character I have been quite able to manage friends with diverse predilections and moorings.
I first noticed this burly grizzly bear standing by the gate of the blocks of apartments where I lived in Cochin. He displayed a fearful, Kathi expression (those who have a lay idea about the dance drama Kathakali will know what Kathi vesham is),each time I and my fellow -in-mates passed him at the gate. He threw glances that sent the message, “nihilist rascals, exhibitionists, nuisance creationists.” and many other expletives that only he knew about. I felt that he aspired and claimed to be the only modest, cultured and decent individual in that vicinity, while we were impertinent and irritants best avoided, got ridden.
Then one night he crashed (virtually) through the door of my room, with my roommate in tow .He had come there to borrow some pornographic books (in the early eighties we were not lucky to have the luxury of PCs and the NET).My mate introduced him to me. ”Man look here, this is another specimen from your town and look what he has come for”. He shook hands with an impish giggle. What a contrast from the fearful sentinel at the gate, I thought to myself!
And from that day about thirty years ago, to this I have not had one instance to disbelieve that his rough exterior is a face of affability. But why? Like the pines of porcupine! Only he can tell!
I was an average reader mostly confined to the ordinary world of less thinking and more pleasure that was fictions of the genre of a J.H.Chase , Desmond Bagley ,Alistair Maclean and some Earl Stanley Gardner stuff. Though excursions to other books of substance like Dumas, Dickens, SKP, MT, Maurice Procter, James Leasor was not uncommon. But a revelation into the wide expanse of Hemmingway, O’Henry, Maugham, Peter Matheson, a distinctly new appraisal of matters through an introduction to J.Krishnamurthy , the awe world of National Geographic ( I ‘m a subscriber of the magazine, now for almost thirty years), these were some of the lasting gifts that I could imbibe from the association with this beefy guy.
He and the Narcissus whom I mentioned early were (I must say) the best men who managed the tense moments at my home after my proposing to C, a catholic, evoked a discernible quake.
Obstinately passionate about mountains, the fellow perhaps would have been better off born to nomads in the mountains. He was also instrumental in instilling ideas of environmental care and conservation .A fiercely private person even be it his spouse and as individualistic as she is, if not an iota more. Possessive about the tiny little private space that he zealously demands for himself and also agrees that is the right of every individual. An affectionate fellow who may not succeed in diplomacy, niether at home or outside.And I realise and give up at this age that it is best to leave him with his idiosyncrasies and his liberty to be himself. It is always a trifle silly to expect, even it be your close as close can be friends that they be congenial to the pedestal that you want them to be. Because when the nuance of personality is lost and then, I guess they become strangers and friends no more.