I don’t have many friends, but lots of people I am friendly with. A lot of that has to do with my definition of a friend.
I suppose it all start with the fact that I am an only child of working parents. No siblings and a naturally shy disposition meant that I am very comfortable being on my own. Growing up in Dubai also meant that movement outside of the neighbourhood or building was restricted due to the lack of public transport. Till I was 9, there were neighbourhood kids, but after that it was just school.
Of course I had friends in school, and we spent much time speaking on the phone. But those friendships haven’t endured into adulthood. There are several reasons for that: first, keeping in touch wasn’t easy, as we moved to different parts of the world. Second, with the few I did keep in touch with, I couldn’t interact too much, because my family went through a tough time. Third, I moved to India, away from my life as I knew it.
College in India was no cakewalk, and I had all kinds of misconceptions. The kids are judgemental and selfish, and so insecure that they were resistant to outsiders. Outsiders like me. I made few friends here, and those ended up being in constant competition with me.
At some point, I gave up the idea of having a true friend. A true friend is someone I think of in a crisis. One that wipes my tears, while telling me how abysmally stupid I’ve been. Who fights in front of me, instead of cowering behind. And frankly, when I am in a crisis, the only people that spring to mind are my folks.
Then I joined my current company. I am friendly with the people here, but are they my true friends? I think they are wonderful, and I do share stuff with them. But yet, they have no idea of who I really am.
Case in point: I offered to courier cake to two of them in Bangalore. The response I get is so incredulous and suspicious, albeit in a humorous way, that I was taken aback. I do stuff for people all the time; just under the radar. I am generous with my time and stuff, and yet I got incredulity.
“Why are you being so nice, Karishma? What’s the game here?”
It is funny, no doubt, but because I am still so broken up inside, it hurt just a little. It speaks volumes for our so-called friendship that I can’t say it did though.