I was reading an interview of a celebrity in a leading Tamil monthly. This celebrity was very popular on the small screen for nearly two decades as an anchor of a film music programme in Tamil, sponsored by a soft drink brand. She was missing from the limelight for a few years and has just made a comeback.
In the interview she mentioned the reasons for her long absence, one of which concerned her health. During the years that she was going through multitudinous problems, she found out that most of her so called friends had deserted her and only her parents remained with her as pillars of strength.
We all have heard such comments from many people – especially celebrities when they bounce back after a lean period in their life.
This set me thinking about the definition of friends. A true friend is one who stands by you through good and bad times. Through thick and thin as they say. If he does not, he is obviously not your friend. `A Friend in need is a friend indeed` is an oft repeated saying.
Very often celebrities think that the coterie around them consisting of admirers, business associates, fellow professionals or other sycophants who like to be seen with them, as friends. They don`t realize that most of these people are `fair weather cocks` who are friendly with you because of the position that you hold, the status that you enjoy in society or even the chair you are occupying. The moment you lose the status or the position, the crowd around you melts.
Many such celebrities also tend to forget their genuine friends who were their bosom pals in their earlier years, while they are acquiring new friends befitting their new social status. Super Star Rajnikanth being an exception, as the media loves to tell us.
Though I am not a celebrity, as a person who was involved in several voluntary organizations, I have a legion of friends spread across the country. A few of them are very close to me and I know that such friends will surely stand by me in my hour of crisis.
As I found this out when I was on the cross roads in my life and started my own advertising agency, with only “good will ” as my principal capital. The way my friends from the Round Table (a youth organization with which I was involved for 14 years)) rallied around me to kick start my agency with free office space and telephone, money, business, contacts besides moral support, is something which I can never forget in my life. Nor can I forget the genuine concern and offer of help from a number of friends during my wife’s terminal illness.
To make this happen one must be genuinely friendly with others. One has to first invest one`s time and efforts in helping others. Friendship is not a one way traffic. When people notice that you stood by them in their hour of crisis, they are likely to come to your help when you need them. As they say,` Be good to the people on your way up: they will be good to you on your way down`.
I can hear some people murmur, “that does not always happen. A few people I helped don’t even recognize me now”. Don`t worry. Even if the recipient of your good deed does not respond when you need him, God will ensure that help comes through some one else. You will discover new friends who are genuinely interested in you.
There are ofcourse some friends who are very good at heart but do not have the time or inclination to really help. They only pay lip service. When you are going through a tough phase in your life, they will tell you “Any help you want, please do not hesitate to ask me”. But when you try to contact them , they will not be reachable. It is not difficult to spot such friends.
On the other hand a true friend, however busy he might be, will be by your side extending a helping hand. when you need it. You are invariably in touch with such friends sharing your joys and sorrows regularly. You can only have a few such genuine friends in life. I have had friends who have helped me when they sensed I was in need of help, without my asking for it.
If you are able to distinguish between such genuine friends from the legion of contacts you may have, I assure you that you will never complain about friends deserting you in your hour of crisis.
I would like to conclude with a quote from `THIRUKKURAL` by the well known Tamil sage Thiruvalluvar:
`Mughanaga Natpadhu Natpu Andru; Nenchathu Aghanaga Natpadu Natpu`
`Friendship is not one coming from outward expressions like a casual smile but a sincere feeling that comes from within`.