I returned from work to find Chichi, my daughter very sad. She was so inconsolable that her heart was bursting out through her mouth. It was a relief for her to pour out her grief to me, her affectionate daddy. She was waiting for me to return from work.
Gaining and maintaining the trust of my children in that they could tell me everything, I adjudge, is my greatest achievement as a parent.
“I sense Joan doesn’t like me anymore”, my daughter said in a tone betraying a sense of let down. And she continued, “Joan was very cold to me today. I guess she doesn’t want to be my her friend again,” my 10 year old daughter said as if her whole life depended on her friendship with Joan.
Chichi is a chip off an old block. She took after me. She is committed to friendship and could take a stab for her friends and relations. Unfortunately, my daughter is too young to realize the dangers of being a true friend. She loves the story of Jonathan and David in the Bible. But, I had to ask her not to believe the story of Romeo and Juliet. I told her that the duo were not from Nnewi.
That was how I began to teach my daughter the principles of friendship; but not before I asked her siblings to join us so that I could use one stone to kill three birds.
Have you ever found out what that person you call your best friend thinks about you?
You may be shocked to realize that even your supposed best friend is only tagging along and would not waste an opportunity to do you in or betray you at a slightest chance.
Even dog, man’s best friend, could bite the owner under certain influences.
My little sojourn on earth and practice of friendship have brought certain reality to my attention. I have since realized that friendship has a season and its duration is determined by tides, events and time.
Daniel Imoh, my classmate at Nnewi High School had once told me that friendship had an expiry date. He told me so to justify his decision to deal with Izunna, our common friend who also was a school mate. Daniel told me that the transgression of Izunna had determined their friendship; that he didn’t mind losing the relationship in question whatever it was worth.
Daniel invited the police to pick up our friend with an instruction to press charges if Izunna refused to settle the matter. I couldn’t believe it because I guessed that we were all very close and that the issue at hand didn’t call for a drastic action. It was a money matter; but I saw pragmatism in action.
This made me to take an amateurish analysis of friendship.
I came to reckon that when a baby is born in the hospital, the baby’s first friends are those born within the same period and in same hospital followed by those he stays with in the crèche, nursery and primary schools. At these periods, friendship existed albeit childish as long as the children are in the same venue. Most friends made at this stage might never remember or meet themselves again once they are separated.
From my experience, friendship developed in the secondary or during trade apprenticeship seem to last longest. It could be that in this kind of friendship, interactions or relationships were not status based. That could be why Old Girls or Boys Associations wax stronger than Alumni associations of tertiary institutions.
I have realized that a friendship where one of the parties sacrifices more and always ignores the excesses of the other party last much longer. It is evident that the glue holding some friendships is the determination of one party to ignore the shortcomings of the other.
There are friendships developed due to necessity of geography, work, commonality of enemy or pursuit of common objectives.
Once the reason for the friendship is no longer there, the friendship would collapse. That’s why former colleagues or classmates suddenly become strangers after separation from workplace or upon graduation.
Former presidents or powerful office holders soon realise how fake their friends are soon after leaving office. Mrs Cecila Ibru, former MD/CEO of the rested Oceanic Bank was quite philosophical about how her supposed hero worshippers and bosom friends deserted her during her time of tribulations and need in a classical case of use and dump. Only a few stuck with her.
In my different phases of life, I have noticed that I have always had people I called my best friends who now live as if I no longer exist. These include those that kissed me and those I kissed. All those saliva or other exchanges no longer matter to us any more. We have moved on. We had to.
My best friend in the primary school left for a secondary school different from the one I attended and the friendship glue weakened and we lost our closeness. Same thing happened to my best friend in the secondary school and that of the university. We are not enemies to date but the intensity of the friendship is no longer the same.
My experience as a working adult revealed that friendship at the work place is a victim of promotion, posting or disengagement.
Not all your friends would be happy if you are promoted beyond their own expectations or estimation of you.
Most friendship is alive when both friends are progressing. A little set back could put a dagger on the neck of a friendship.
On numerous occasions, I had found out that those I regarded as my friends were responsible for framing me up, carrying cryptic destructive gossip of me and directing career terminating darts thrown at me to fall.
I was once blamed by a friend for not committing suicide to impress him despite my efforts in deflating live bullets directed at him in solemn acts of defending a friend. A serpentine voice told him that I was part of his problem and he believed it. That was how my heroic efforts in his service were deviously narrated as sabotage.
I have also realized that those secretly dangerous friends of mine were envious and didn’t want me to rise above them and would conceal such wicked thoughts from me. Some of them take the form of Delilah or Judas.
There are some friendship slayers who are typically envious of two close friends, who look for any opportunity to manipulate one against the other with well garnished true lies that look like truths.
They start by saying “be careful with Anayo, he is after your wife. Can’t you see how he gave your wife a breast-depressing hug yesterday…?” or “that friend of yours who pretends to love you is the cause of your travails”. Many pastor friends use the last line to damage marriages and relationships.
I have succeeded in teaching my children that building a friendship is like making a pot of soup. The soup tastes sweet when it is fresh but could get sour, rancid and poisonous as time goes by. Intrusion of a common bacterium known as clostridium botulinum into an egusi soup or fresh soup could kill within hours.
I impressed upon them to develop antennae to detect the real-time taste or state of their friendship with anyone and should develop a skin, thick enough, to absorb the pains of defriending someone or the aches that follows being defriended.
Losing a friend could be so sad but just like everything created, friendship must come to an end one day.
Even though friendship is an essential form of human relationship, it comes in seasons.
A today’s friend could be someone’s enemy tomorrow just like former enemies could become aka ekpe na ụtụ ọhụ or five and six.
Friendship does not have to be permanent.
Sometimes it is important to allow friendship to die. It makes the former friends learn the need to appreciate the other party’s selfless disposition that has kept the friendship alive before it died.
To my children’s greatest amazement, I told them that the Almighty God and Lucifer, the Devil used to be friends and lived happily in heaven until the great fight that made God send the Devil down to the earth to become the patron of bad or deceitful friends.
Therefore, if friendship or a relationship could go sour in heaven, why should humans be bothered when they experience it on earth?