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  Opinion   Columnists  12 Nov 2022  Krishna Shastri Devulapalli | What’s old isn’t necessarily gold

Krishna Shastri Devulapalli | What’s old isn’t necessarily gold

Krishna Shastri Devulapalli is a humour writer, novelist, columnist and screenwriter
Published : Nov 13, 2022, 12:10 am IST
Updated : Nov 13, 2022, 12:10 am IST

What the romanticization of old friendships also brings into sharp focus is how little we seem to value the concept of values

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What’s old isn’t necessarily gold

Krishna Shastri Devulapalli

Any wisdom that’s handed down, I’ve always suspected. Like the goodness of Mom’s cooking, for instance, or the betterness of Close-Knit Families or the bestness of Old Friends. I personally know a couple of kids who succumbed to food poisoning after eating what Mom cooked, and, to my knowledge, weren’t the Corleones the best example of a close-knit family?

Coming to old friendships, like with everything else in the world, it was the epics and folklore that set us off on this path by romanticizing the touching bonds between Damon and Pythias or Krishna and Kuchela. Then we had movies, books, songs, ads and alumni associations going blue in the face about dosti, yaari and sneham because it’s a paying sentiment. And now we have wretched old social media, too, recycling the same schmaltz. Because it guarantees likes. The largest number of forwards I get, second only to those that talk of our glorious country’s past greatness, are the terribly worded, atrociously misspelt ones about old friendships, all punctuated by a befuddling array of inappropriate emojis.

Okay, let’s presume I’m just a cynical b****, I’m wrong, and Old Friendships are, indeed, the best.

Why?

Because, as any old friendship advocate will tell you, they happened spontaneously — at school, on the street we lived in — and were formed while we were young, innocent, and didn’t have angles and motives. And they’ve survived. That’s proof, isn’t it? If something lasts, it’s good. Old friends are whom we trust. They have our best interests at heart. Everyone knows that.

This set of comforting beliefs that’ll have everyone nodding their heads sagely, unfortunately, is full of holes.

Firstly, old friendships, like we’ve been led to believe, didn’t happen ‘spontaneously’. They were decided entirely by two factors: the locality you lived in and the school that you had to go to — both parental decisions. So it means that you formed those to-die-for bonds with whoever was available because you lived in a house on Rajalingam Street and went to Holy Faith Vidyashram.

What if your father had bought the apartment on, say, Gulwadi Street instead? Which was his Option 1, actually.  And your mother had got her way of admitting you in Sai Kishkinda Gurukul instead because her best friend’s kids went there?

Wouldn’t your old friends be Bowl Head, Bonda Mug and Goofy instead of Tiffin Box, Spidey and Soorpanakha then?

Secondly, to presume we were all innocent, with no angles or agendas whatsoever when we were kids is not just naive but unscientific. Please remember Mareecha, Mussolini and Manson were all kids, too, at one time. We all had angles, we were all manipulative and, to different degrees, we all knew who brought what to the table when we were kids. And chose our friends accordingly among who was available.

As for longevity being a sure sign of reliability, many old friendships survive because of what we’ve read in folk tales and been fed by popular culture. They survive because we believe they have to.

Secondly, they survive because we are lazy and don’t have the energy to go through the whole screening process to make new friends. They survive because they are convenient. They survive because they are familiar.

The most important factor we tend to ignore while paeanizing old friendships is that human beings evolve differently.

How can we expect Tiffin Box, Spidey and Soorpanakha — all — to evolve in the exact same manner, same direction and same speed, as you? Or each other? Or evolve at all?

What the romanticization of old friendships also brings into sharp focus is how little we seem to value the concept of values, and how expendable that all-important factor is in the perpetuity of this myth.

How can the value system of everyone who ‘grew up together’ be the same? And how can that not have a bearing on us in our adult lives?

Would you still be best friends with Bowl Head if you knew he was a poacher or a human trafficker? Or, why go that far, if he was, say, a garden variety misogynist? Unfortunately, I know folks who would say ‘Yes, of course, that’s my old buddy, man.’

I am not for a minute saying all old friendships are bad. I trust my life with at least three people I know for over forty years. But I also trust a couple of other people I met a few years ago as much. And consider them as close as anyone could ever be.

Valuing only old friendships is a sign of laziness, a lack of openness, but above all, a sign that you haven’t carried out your principal duty as a human being — evolving. Chaddi buddies are all well and good but more often than not, one does outgrow one’s chaddis.

Tags: mussolini, tiffin box, krishna