In the rebellious youth of yore, I declared to my mother - 'You love me not because I am Balachandran V, but because I am your son. As an individual, I demand respect and love for what I am. That is something neither you nor my siblings and relatives can ever give me. That is why I value friendship more than blood relation. You are bound to love me, whereas friends are not. There are no obligations in friendship'. Words to such effect delivered oh-so-pompously, self-righteously.
I can now imagine how hurting those words would have been to her. I can understand that shadow of pain that crossed her face, because now as a father I realize that I love and respect my son not only because he is my blood, but for the good fortune that I have in knowing him, in nurturing him - it is like watching a tree growing; you love the tree not only because you gave it water and sunlight or for the shade and happiness it gives us, but also for what the tree is, for the very being of that tree.
Anil's latest post, 'Matters of fact', in which I figure rather too prominently ( glaringly, like my bald head!) is about friendship. Friendship, I now know is not something that you can have with only those other than blood or familial relations, but your spouse and offspring too can be friends.
Suddenly, I am engulfed in a surge of great joy - I realize that P & K are among my best friends!
Below is a poem I wrote long ago. I reproduce it here for all the friends in my life. From Cheriyan in the US, one of my oldest friends that I am still in touch with ( we haven't seen each other in the flesh for - 45 years!), Pradeep, Venu, Shibu, Abe, Jacob, Balu, Rahul, Anil, Sreekumar(s), Vincent, Dr Sreenivasan, Satheesh, Gopi, Parameswaran, Unnikrishnan, Suresh, Mohan, James, Bindu, Dr Antony, Arun, Ousu, Kalpana, Sumi, Thomman, Kavitha, Melange - (I realize there are too many to write, so those names omitted, pl forgive).
I look at the panorama of the circle of my friends and I see that it extends, extends, extends....
Thanks for being around, guys and gals! This poem is for each of you.
A Library of Love
My friend! What brought us together?
Was it the love for each other’s presence?
Was it the comfort in each other’s being?
Was it the glow in our eyes and hearts?
Was it the joy, the warmth and mirth
Was it regard, respect, the reason
Or was it because we just felt at ease?
Was it just the way we were?
Weren’t there times when it came to an end,
Weren’t there moments when we flew apart?
Why to each other did we take
Why each did we value, more than others?
What made you my friend, my friend?
What was the chemistry, what was the fusion?
What, pray tell me you see in me
What made you say I am your friend?
It couldn’t be just the love for music
Or for mountains and musings on life.
It couldn’t be just the interests same
Or sharing the simple joys of life.
Something did happen when we met
When we said hello and looked in the eye.
Something right did fall in place
A seed, a bond that then grew in time.
The rides on bikes! The walks on hills!
The spray of rain, lashing winds!
Numbing cold! Gasping breath!
Evenings cool, a warm drink in hand.
Sun at dusk, sun at dawn,
Moonlit nights and starry skies.
Green clad forests, snowy peaks
Chaotic cities and villages calm.
Long were the paths together we trod,
Lord! How short, how short was it all!
How much further would we have
To walk on, think on, side by side?
My friends! There is such gladness in my heart
That I could be all I wanted in life.
Each of you filled a void in me
Each of you were what I weren’t.
Each of you were what I wished to be
And each of you had a little of me.
What would it matter if we had to leave
When we have filled each other’s cup?
My friends! Like my books you are
Always kept within my view.
Just within reach, always at hand,
My friends, my little library of love!
Balachandran V, Kottayam 28/07/2005