I am grateful for the few friends I have, because as they say, having busybody blood relatives is fine, but there’s nothing as exciting as having toxic friends.
I looked up on who thought of the idea for a Friendship Day, which incidentally, was originally celebrated on Aug. 2, then changed to Aug. 1, but then some countries commemorate it on July 30, maybe because the friends were busy and couldn’t get together.
I believe it was first celebrated in the US; it has to be, because Americans can turn anything into a business idea. Then, the inventor of the Hallmark Cards, that also has singing animated monkeys with a wide repertoire of songs and dances, started the trend in 1930, but marked it for Aug. 2
Anyway, whoever first thought of Friendship Day, must be the same guy who thought up Father’s day.
A couple of years ago, I remember our son getting something from school, which looked like it was smashed by an angry elephant, who had put down its heavy foot on it.
“Happy Mother’s Day,” said the note attached to the very awkward looking pottery vase. “We made this in class for you,” said our son, beaming.
Our strange familial ties
This went on for years and we have evidence of what was gifted to my wife, as we have hidden it somewhere in storage in some far away industrial area, and which will only be opened after a couple of 100 years later when aliens land on earth and wish to know about our strange customs and equally strange familial ties.
It was always Mother’s Day as if I never existed, and that fathers are only meant for pulling a kid’s ear in front of the teacher at parents-teacher’s meetings for not getting 98 per cent or something equally superhuman, in the CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) exams. (Now you know why Indian kids are smart).
But my contribution was much more than my wife’s who had to study silly stuff for her offspring, which never would be useful in real life, and made volcanoes out of papier mache for our son’s science project.
Nobody remembers my contribution of getting up at 7am (an unearthly hour for a journo who spent a lifetime doing graveyard shifts at a newspaper), and sleep driving our son to the school, when the school bus did not come on rainy days, because the roads were flooded.
Then suddenly one day, I got something our son made in school. “Happy Father’s Day,” he said as he presented me a collage of some of the most embarrassing and disgusting pictures my wife had taken of me.
“You showed these pictures to your teacher,” I asked. “Yes,” he said. “Teacher said I am lucky to have such a funny, erm, humorous, father,” he said.
On Friendship day we are supposed to go out and tie bands on each other and celebrate the bonds that tie us together.
However, I can’t imagine a couple of us friends, sitting and enjoying coffee and cake at the local Starbucks after a busy day of shopping.
As you age, it is difficult to make new friends, because no one has the same idiosyncrasies and grumpiness like you.
I am grateful that I have a friend who sends me a “Good Morning” message every day on Whatsapp, that I keep forgetting to delete and then my phone starts doing strange things because there’s “no space”.
Mental health experts say it is important to have friends because after living with your wife for years, you need some other human being in your life, for relief.
As one of the Friendship Day cards says: A friend is someone who knows everything about your life, and (strangely) still loves you. Or, check out this lovely saying: “Every garden must have a rose, every face must have a smile, every ...”, oh, forget it, anyway you get the drift.
Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi