Saturday, 11 August 2012

A Story of Friendship

'The most beautiful discovery that true friends make, is that they can grow separately without growing apart'- Elizabeth Foley

Just over four years ago, I penned down an article thanking two of my  college friends, Daniel Sisungo and Daniel Waithaka, for their contribution to my life. The article ran in the first issue of asali, a magazine I was honoured to serve as editor and one that I was able to put together with the help of a dedicated team of friends.

That particular article on friendship was inspired by the once in a lifetime experience I shared with the two Daniels who were my classmates, friends and at one point- roommates. When I wrote down the article, it was an expression of my appreciation for the duo and for the value that they added to my life. Reading it again, four years on, one paragraph best captures my take on friendship to this day:

'They (the two Daniels) were amazing people- a part of my life at a crucial point in my life. It is my hope that I brought something new into their lives, however little it may be. My hope is that despite the passage of time, we shall hold dear the memories that we shared and put to good use that which we learnt while together.'

A most interesting journey

On December 19th 2008, four years after we had began a most interesting journey, Daniel Sisungo, Daniel Waithaka and I graduated on a sunny afternoon. Like thousands of others, we were excited. That day was a culmination of years of hard work, many happy encounters and occasional disappointments. With our friends and families present to witness another important chapter in our lives, that was a happy day indeed.

A month later, in January 2009, I received news of the demise of Daniel Waithaka. I broke down and cried like a little baby. I cried like I had not cried before. I cried for the loss of a life cut short in its prime. I cried for a mother who would not see his son pursue the full measure of happiness, well into his sunset years. I cried for a lost friend! That was one of the saddest days in my life.

Once again, even in that difficult moment, we saw the face of friendship. We saw friendship when a few close friend stepped forward to contribute their effort in organising the send-off committee. We saw friendship when friends and friends of friends posted their heartfelt condolences. We saw friendship when hundreds more came through and despite their own responsibilities, contributed their time and resources generously.

Through quick mobilisation by a few of those who knew Daniel Waithaka well and thanks to the generous support and contribution from hundreds of others, we were able to give one of our own a decent sendoff. The support was simply overwhelming. This, on a more personal level, spoke directly to the unyielding and sometimes fleeting nature of friendship.

On the edge of a precipice

Too often, we are tempted to think that true friendship does not exist and that the nature of friendship in modern-day life is based on convenience and the environment within which we find ourselves. As such, once our immediate needs are fulfilled and once we are removed from that environment, the thread of friendship that previously held us together is permanently severed.

Too often, we are tempted to think that a friendship like that between David and Jonathan is not possible, that these words from the scripture no longer ring true: "thy own friend and thy father's friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brothers house, only on the day of calamity for better is thy (friend) that is near, than thy brother that is far."

Too often, we are tempted to think that it is not possible to have friends beyond social networks. That it is neither possible to have friendship that defines the politics of a people, nor to have the kind of friendship that inspires amazing poetry. With good reason and through our individual experiences, it is easy to believe that a friendship that is strong and resilient, is a myth- a reality only in a long-gone era.

From all our shared experiences and based on history, these sentiments are not far from the truth. With the increased responsibilities that we bear each day and with the commitments that take up so much of our time, it is little wonder that we continue to become ever so cynical about the existence of true friendship. But all is not lost, as evidenced by my own experience. In my short life, I have been witness to true friendship.

I see proof of friendship in what I have with my good friend Polycarp, who has been overly kind to me and who I meet from time to time. I have known him for close to seven years and I would be honoured to share many more happy years with his family. Equally, I see friendship in what I have with my good friend Bella who I have not seen in three years. Mature, energetic and such an inspiration, her outlook of life is refreshing. I hope we shall rekindle our friendship some day.

I see proof of friendship in a number of my good friends who have let me play a big role in special moments in their lives and in the lives of their beloved. It is a big honour, and I am delighted to have been a witness to some of the special moments in their lives. I see proof of friendship in friends who, despite the passage of time, spare a thought for their friend. Few call occasionally, some write once every often while others simply inspire me to be a good son any mother would be proud of.

I am aware of our mortality and the fact that I may never have an opportunity to rekindle all old friendships or to appreciate each of my friends, individually. So here goes, to those that have been kind enough to let me share in their lives; my childhood friends, my college buddies, my current chums, my future pals, my favourite girl and my wing-man...THANK YOU!!!

What's your experience? Who are the people in your life who spell out friendship for you? What has been their contribution to your life?

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