“Hearts united in pain and sorrow
will not be separated by joy and happiness.
Bonds that are woven in sadness
are stronger than the ties of joy and pleasure.
Love that is washed by tears
will remain eternally pure and faithful.”
― Kahlil Gibran, Love Letters in the Sand: The Love Poems of Khalil Gibran
Most of the greatest friendships that I have experienced and continue to experience are those that were made in my vulnerable states when we were at zero and had nothing to lose. I have been lucky to have many but I would like to talk about two groups of foursomes that I have been a part of.
In high school, I became friends with three other girls, Olamide, Romie-who, and Kyuu. We were more of a natural grouping than a group. By age 13 I had, several times, experienced being shunned by ‘group’ members for being too intimate with individuals of rival groups or neglecting to observe the unspoken pact of always going to dinner with ‘the group’ or at least members of the group, to actually give a toss about belonging to any group. I was a lone ranger, but I wasn’t really ‘alone’ I just hang out with a lotta different typa people that’s how came I to develop a very unlikely bond with one of the fallen angels of the school, Romie-who. (By fallen angel, I mean one of the “it” girls whose natural tendency towards being a free spirit had seen her exploring her puberty freely and had been blacklisted). The seed that bore the fruit of my friendship with Romie-who was truth. On an unlikely tip, we found each other in each other’s vicinity and she started to talk to me, not one of those silence fillers or buidling momentum to ease myself out of this vicinity conversations but just regular sit down for tea talk. I said okay, and decided to fish some gossip while we were at it. It was common knowledge that she had been treated rudely by some random boy who had been her boyfriend, and it was common action for the disgracee to lie about the events and make it seem as if they were the disgracer. We all had reps to uphold. Our lives depended on it. I asked her about her love life, implicitly, feigning ignorance on the disgracing incident. I was really looking for ammunition for dinnertime conversation where I would be like, “Can you imagine so’n’so is going around lying that ‘she’ dumped ‘him’ because of such and such” and !boom! our little lives have been livened up, at someone’s expense, if even for half an hour at dinnertime. But I was to get no such thing. She told me all: his rudeness, her disgrace, and I noticed through it all her lack of anger, bitterness; just confusion. And it hit me that she was just a human being looking for love and affection and giving her all where she feels that for someone and all this fucker was ready to do with that was use it to get a moment of glory in High School’s fading limelight. And I realised ‘he’ should shunned not ‘her’. Half an hour’s gossip material gave way to a lifetime friendship.
During all this, I had an awesome relationship with my roommate, Olamide because. Because Romie-who was always in my room, she developed a bond with Olamide, and because I was always in Romie-who’s room, my already developed bond with her roommate, Kyuu, crystalised, because she is truthful and loyal, and so Kyuu started coming to my room and developed a bond with Olamide, and because Olamide had developed a bond with Romie-who, she was always in their room and solidified the bond with Kyuu.
Anyway, it was a paradox; we were always broke but never ever broke. We were always broke because that is one’s natural state of being in boarding school; but we were never broke because we were sent money at different times and though it was never a rule, spoken or otherwise, anyone’s money was everyone’s money. The highlight of boarding school was ‘g-nyzing’ polony and cheese on fresh baked bread. We l.i.v.e.d for Saturdays, when two of us (I should really say two of them as it was usually, ok, always Romie-who and Kyuu) took a ‘exeat’ pass and went to the lone grocery store in the middle of that nowhereland where our high school was located and bought these delicacies. Now, I really shudder to think just how… f.o.r. .g.r.a.n.t.e.d we took each other’s things to be our own. But more importantly showing our vulnerabilities to each other wasn’t even a thing. Like if one was broke, you immediate -not ‘thought’, not ‘assumed’, but –knew that if the other peeps eating, then you eating; if they got money then you got money, and actually ‘telling’ your friends that you don’t have money wasn’t a thing. These three remain, until today, some of my best friends.
But now people would sooner meet up at Chameleon for drinks than invite each other, informally, to their homes. And I’m no exception, there are very few people who come to my home for just chill out time on my couch or my bed-even though it’s queensize, and I’m small so two people fit on it easy. And god forbid if you should be too broke to meet up at Chameleon. The phrase you are looking for is, “I’m preoccupied”. If you actually expose your vulnerability and accept people’s charity you will be labelled a leech. People may offer you their tabs on a the more the merrier tip, or just cause it’s the (right) thing to do or cause you are the life of the party but you best believe you will be the talk of other parties too! “Oh, if you are going out with so’n’so you better be prepared two the whole night”; ” ‘Do you know, as much as so’n’so goes out he never has money to go out’…’Noooo’ ‘It’s true; he is always on someone or other’s tab’ ”
There are some friends who will come and visit me and as soon as they figure out that aint nothing, other venuely, happening, they say their goodbyes, without preamble. Others call me: “What’s happening this weekend?”
“Ih, kaya. We’ll see.”
And that’s the end of that.
Another foursome that I was a part of was during the first year of college(American English) or ‘uni’ (British English). What bound us together was the last-born syndrome, and then we all had tyrants for siblings, but we all wanted to be independent as fuck; 3 of us openly, the other just as passionately, but more subtle in her ways. We weren’t allowed to go to parties so we spent many a Saturday-night-till wee hours of the morning at ihop, or at least until the phone Jess-who was the only one amongst us who had a car-started blowing up with calls from her mom, and she would tell us, sincerely, that she had to go but ‘we’ could stay; we shouldn’t break up the party because of her
knowing goddamn well we had no other option of getting back home. Jess was the only one with a car which means she drove us everywhere, but she never complained; never made us chip in for gas. For a while Jess and Captain were the only one’s with long distance calling options so when we started living in different states, they would be the ones calling e.v.e.r.y.d.a.y and e.v.e.r.d.a.y, at 9pm when the free minutes started, I would be waiting by the phone with no less faith that it would ring than that the sun would rise the next morning.
It’s this that makes me keep on calling Jess when she tunnel visions into her books and won’t initiate nor return calls; it’s this that makes me feel Ralph’s complaints that I didn’t let him know I was visiting his continent yet told so’n’so, and yet won’t let me feel as if our bond has been shaken one bit; it’s this that let’s me talk to Captain as if we just been hanging the day before even if we haven’t talked in months. It’s because so much has been, mutually, invested to keep the friendship going that one cannot help but feel secure that they are a wanted if not vital entity in the others’ lives.
Friendships and such bonds which are made under strenuous conditions are strong because the bond is being made, at the same time there are forces pulling it apart-which is the only way to make a knot stronger-if it doesn’t break, you know it is a good knot and leaving it alone will not unravel it. Whereas, in the case of bonds that are made in joyous times, the knot is made only and is not pulled apart to make it stronger, even when left alone, it may unravel all by itself. A bond can only be strengthened when pulled apart. When pulled apart, it will break or it will withstand. If it withstands, you know your bond has been strengthened from what it was before.