Growing up, one of the most important things that I learnt from my Appa and Thatha was that friendships are important. Even today, Appa frequently expresses this and tells me how important it is that I should maintain old friendships and develop new ones.
Both my grandfathers were extroverted men who had a big circle of close friends. Over the years, and as these relationships grew, some of these friends became family. My grandparents friends are my thathas and pattis. Appa has a close circle of friends whom I know I can count on anytime. During my childhood years, I remember that my thatha and patti were referred to as ‘Anna‘ and ‘Manni‘ by so many people. I had so many ‘mamas‘, ‘athais‘ and cousins, I thought I was related to almost the whole city! When I grew older, I realized that all of them were not related to me by blood, but perhaps by something that was deeper and stronger.
The most special of these relationships have lasted generations. I visited the granddaughter of my thatha’s best friend a few weeks ago, and felt so much at home with her and her family. In my head and heart, I consider her an elder sister and I love her babies as much as I would love my own sister’s children.
I know a lot of people who believe family is everything – I used to think so too, but now something has changed.
I had a conversation last night with a cousin – a girl I loved and spent my entire childhood with. We spoke for 30 minutes, but I came away from that conversation with a bittersweet feeling in my throat. I felt like I had had a superficial ‘let’s catch up conversation’ with a girl I vaguely knew. I still love her, but the truth (and I should admit this to myself) is that I love the memory of our growing-up years together, and the relationship that we used to share, more than our relationship now. It has taken me time, introspection and a lot of tears to come to this place and be happy with this. Today, I realize I have so many happy memories with her…even if we don’t regain our relationship, I will always have a cherished memory to love and remember.
I think about my own life and my friends – the ones I count as family. I have a bunch of wonderful girlfriends whom I’ve known since I was a toddler. I look forward to loving their babies as my own nieces and nephews, and I wish our children would grow up to be good friends. I have a mixed bunch of college friends – we may not talk everyday, but I know that I can call them at anytime of the day or night, and they would be there for me.
I look forward and face the future with the hope that I would welcome more such beautiful relationships into my life. And I promise myself that I would teach my children the priceless value of friendship – just as my Appa taught me.