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  • Writer's pictureKanika Bhatia

Friendships * Covid

Is there anything original in this world? Like the idea of this topic? I read a headline, I wanted to explore it my way. I refrained from reading the article, because what if I agree with the writer? I want to say my own bit and let agreement be its own little happenstance. Without digressing further, let’s begin.

Emerson tells us that the only friend worth having is one who remains somewhat unknown. It’s the mystery that keeps our relationships untarnished. However, with covid, some walls were dropped. The phone became our entrance stone to “society.” It was our water cooler chats, our coffee meet ups and 3 AM wine drinking sessions combined. The phone frames your friends in the least annoying and most imaginatively nurturing light. Our collective memories were of simultaneously discovering zoom, baking and a continued sense of self. This self was shared, till each chat discovered some nods, some mutual destruction stories with the closest. However, not all were romanticised. A LOT, was also lost.

Now, if you’re a Murakami fan like me, you know you have a leaning towards metaphors. If you’re not, can I still interest you in one? Imagine that your trustworthy coffee machine of years has broken down. Here are your possible options:

  1. You repair it. You have loved this coffee machine for years. It knows exactly how you like your coffee in the morning, or maybe you loved the way it made it from day 1. There is consistency, balance and a dependability of years.

  2. You discard it. End of story. It’s high time you reduce your dependency on coffee anyway, and it’s only good timing. It doesn’t deserve the kind of attention you placed towards it.

  3. You replace it. Replacing has to be the easiest right? It’s readily available once you know what you want, and it doesn’t allow you to feel that emptiness. You might even go for an upgrade, who knows?

  4. You do nothing. The coffee machine refuses to revive itself, you refuse to repair or replace. You just let it be. A memento of sorts for the years of loyalty and dependency you have shared with it.

  5. While you choose any of the above options, you also try to figure whose fault was it anyway? Was it electricity with no voltage management? You, who expected too many cups too soon? Or was it the age related wear and tear and the machine had simply run its course.

Whichever is your discourse, you know the ground has shifted and something has permanently changed. Now, this supposed coffee machine is obviously the friend you had in mind while you read all the way through. This was the person you love/loved and had intended to for a long time. But as of right now, you can geospatially locate the hurt. You recall the last conversation, have re-runs through your brain and most times wish the words hadn’t been exchanged at all. But they were, and it revealed personalities you weren’t ready to deal with, theirs or yours, reader’s choice.

A lot changed since Covid, but how I deal with relationships in my life has to be the showstopper. I wish this essay would end with a Buzzfeed-like listicle telling you five ways of handling friendships since March 2020 (who knows it might), but I am thinking as I write. When the world at large is out to get you, metaphoric as it might be, self preservation kicks in. Since everything is defined by Darwin largely, this you understand is evolution 101. This self preservation translates to confirmation bias, and you come out looking golden. BUT, the mirror might not lie, however no one looks at you in the mirror more than you do. So what do you do? You revisit old memories, you reflect what they mean to you now. You take the time to hear what this friction is telling you. Were they/ you always this person, or is circumstantial evidence over powering?

No one starts off by shouting. Who they are, comes across after a long time. The unrest begins from a very different kind of whirlpool. Who they are, where they come from, who damaged them. When someone I love has hurt me, what I want from them mostly is recognition of this pain. Fixing a situation is always secondary, but if you fail to address it, it’s a sham. In our sense of adventure, we tend to explore the extent of the scenario, whether by prolonging the silence or parroting the same hurt over and over again. However, here are few things I have built on as my gospel since March 2020 (told you there might be a list):

  1. There’s nothing that can’t be said both truthfully and kindly.

  2. Borrowed words: “There is the fact that some sentences can be true and kind and still hurtful. But holding in truths because one is terrified of hurting their recipients, terrified that those recipients are incapable of surviving their hurt or will retaliate in rage, is a telltale of inequality or oppression.”

  3. You are allowed to decide the highest extent of something. It might be listening, violence, anger or forgiveness. How much you will bear in every scenario is completely up to you.

  4. NO situation, no matter how bad, allows someone to be a horrible person to you beyond temporary lash outs. NONE WHATSOEVER.

  5. Is this person capable of bearing differences of opinion or perspectives? If not, do not waste your energy.

I have taken some rather drastic stands in this testing period, and I have come out happier for it. Covid hasn’t been just a revision of priorities, but it has really shifted the gaze on who deserves your attention and how much. You have limited (time/attention/fucks), spend it wisely.

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