How is the relationship between humans formed? Does the relationship depend on values? There are legal relations which are by birth or by marriage. There are other relationships which happen. Closest relationship is between mother and child. Then come husband and wife and so on! I am not talking of relatives, but I am speaking of relations. One may be a close relative, but we may not have much association with that person. I am taking a look at the connection between two persons as friends, whether they are relatives or not, even if there is an age difference between them and maybe they are of different sex.
Years back we visited Canada. It was our first visit outside India and our knowledge about personal interactions was limited. We had gone on a holiday for a couple of days with our Canadian friend Ed and his wife, Dorothy! We were in the early thirties, and they were in fifties. On the way back to Ottawa, Ed asked me whether it was ok if he took a small detour. I said, “Ed, we have absolutely no issues.” Ed said, ” My mother lives in an old people’s home. I want to meet her for half an hour!” While we were reaching the old people’s home, Jaya and I were trying to judge if we should also offer to meet his mother! Our problem was solved by Dorothy when we reached the parking lot. Dorothy said, “Ed, you go and see your mother; we will sit in the car!” After, so many years of marriage, for Dorothy “It was Ed’s mother”! We were surprised that she did not feel like meeting the old lady! We were surprised by the relationship between the two ladies!
We have been lucky that most of our close relatives are more of friends than relatives. It is said that the father and son must become friends once their shoe size matches. A similar thing can happen with grandfathers, uncles and other similar relationships, but for this to happen, the onus is on the senior partner. The age difference can come in the way. Relationships are a thing that cannot be explained. They simply happen. Two people simply hit it off on day one. In Bollywood jargon, it is called chemistry between two people. Chemistry occurs. Sometimes two persons are poles opposite in their backgrounds, their thought process. Still, they can be close friends.
During my engineering college days Sharad, Nayan and I were room partners. The only common thing between us was our mother tongue. But even today after more than 50 years we are very close to each other. The main reason I feel is that there never were any expectations of each other. We were very much aware of milestones reached, progress made or difficulties faced. We shared everything, all the time. But discreetly, we had made efforts to nurture the relationship. In the case of Nayan, we were lucky that our relationship went even one step further. Nayan’s parents continued to live in India after Nayan moved to the US. After that, we suddenly realised that we had the third set of parents, Opa and Omi! We had such lovely times with them whenever we could meet. It naturally happened as Nayan moved abroad, and we could spend time with Opa and Omi! Now whenever Nayan and I respond, we share memories of Opa and Omi!
Deepti and Raju have become family for us. Again, as destiny would have it, Deepti joined my business at the tender age of 26, and we have been together through the thick and thin of my company for the last 25 years. When they became family, it is not very easy to say. There is an age difference between us, but it just happened. When Deepti’s mother became our Aai, we do not know. The funny part is Aai calls me, “Sir” and Jaya “Madam” but she is Aai for us.
I will share how these relations get matured and cultivated. A few years back, I was to go for my checkup with Dr Sant, for my sore throat. My granddaughter was one month old at that time. Priya had a high fever, and hence Jaya was managing Rhea. She called and told me the situation; I said her not to bother as I could quickly go alone. This conversation happened while I was in the office. Five minutes later, Deepti simply told me, ” Sir, don’t worry. I have called Raju. He will go with you to the doctor; you don’t go alone.” Again, the destiny was such that I was detected with cancer during that visit and Raju was there to support me. Raju had simply come out of whatever he was doing, going with me!
On the other side, I have a friend, who is a charming person, always smiling, always enthusiastic, always keen. But he tends to keep relationships on/off. In the initial phase, he lived outside Pune. He would pass through Pune very often but would communicate very rarely. Like all of us do, he also went through ups and downs in life. Some of these were very serious up and downs. But as expected he came out of these tough times, with flying colours and became a great professional. We were always on the periphery except when he needed close support. As friends, we kept on giving him support. But later we realised that we were his friends only when he needed help! To me, friends are there when needed, especially if you live in the same city. They are like shadows, and they take up what is required to be done. But alas, in this case, it is not to be so!
Another case is of a college mate, whom I met recently, after 45 years of gap. He was a pleasant person in college days, but soon after college, he moved to foreign shores. He used to come to Pune like all migratory birds always do, but he never met me during this period. He has an added qualification of “NRI” which he displays proudly. Our friend needs small help these days as he has acquired some property in Pune. His experience with his “friends” was not good. I was a little upset when he informed me about his experience but in the same note his rant about change in Pune culture, change in friends not keen to support etc. made me think a little more. When I came to know the other side, it looks like our “NRI” friend has a different set of friends for fun and getting work done! It looks like our friend is riding a big white horse! With shining armour! So, his “friends’ simply ignored his requests. He forgot that any relationship needs nurturing. Nothing is constant in this world including relationships unless cultivated. Our NRI friend forgot that relationship is like a balloon; you need to pump the gas very slowly and check, pump and check. One must get the feeling of knowing when the balloon will burst.
Give and take in a relationship is not like an accounting ledger. You don’t need to create a credit entry, immediately after a debit entry is created. But at some stage ledger needs to be balanced. At the same time, you cannot merely create a significant debit entry too! Nurture, coax, help each other to become closer and closer. There is nothing in life like a lovely relationship.
I could go on and on! While writing this, I have become nostalgic, but friends don’t forget that the beauty of this world is enhanced by great relationships. But you need to nurture them, cultivate them like a Bonsai. The purposes of bonsai are primarily contemplation for the viewer and the pleasant exercise of effort and ingenuity for the grower. We can compare the relationship with Bonsai.
Bonsai is a Japanese art form using a cultivation technique to produce small trees. Bonsai is not intended for the production of food or medicine. Instead, bonsai practice focuses on long-term cultivation and shaping of one or more small trees growing in a container. Similarly, the relationship between two individuals is cultivated for a pure relationship, friendship. There are no expectations. Create a Bonsai of friendship, between two individuals; these are grown with care in a container made up of love! Like Bonsai plants relationship can go on and on, living in their meandering path.