Lifestyle

SILAS NYANCHWANI: The Bitter Truth About Friends

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By SILAS NYANCHWANI

There is a lady who recently died and guys on Twitter have been trading accusations about how her closest friends let her down in her hour of need. 

I get their point, but there is a certain moral puritanism of Twitter and social media that makes me question my sanity. I totally understand why Chimamanda Adichie went on a rampage recently against the insensible folk for whom, life is a black and white affair. 

It is not the first or the last time, friends are being accused of letting their friends down. It happens every other time a celebrity dies broke or lays in hospital with a monumental bill. 

To be an adult, one must have a sense of discernment and self-awareness. One of the things you learn is that friendships are fickle. I mean, the people I hang out with in 2020, were nowhere with me in 2021. Can I accuse them that they abandoned me? No, adult friendships are utilitarian. 

But, perhaps the biggest realisation you will have as an adult is that people have personal obligations. In your 30s, your friend is probably focussed on their career, business, masters, divorce, being cheated on, being broke, sick father, mother, sibling. That means, it is selfish to expect total sacrifice in your hour of need. 

I have not been a great friend to many of the people who have had my back. These things haunt me, but when I think about it, I cut myself some slack. Because the last few years have been the darkest for me. 

Many a time, I have wanted to lock myself in an island and read Susan Howatch, watch the Godfather and wait to die. There are many people who wanted my help and I could never be of much help and it killed me on the inside. 

Last December, a distant cousin called me and after the long introduction, patently faking his affection, he told me of a funeral they had and asked for my contribution. I told him, I was in transit and as soon I could find an MPESA, I will send my donation. 

He then became entitled, calling me every minute, and the journey took longer than I anticipated and I could not send the donation in time. Man, he insulted me, telling me I am a fake relative, and someone I last saw in January 1992, decided on account of my delayed donation that I am a stupid, fake and silly relation. 

I find this to be the attitude that most people possess out here. You see someone driving a good car you assume they have money. Someone uploads a picture of expensive whisky, we assume they have money. 

Some take a picture at the beach, we assume they have money. Someone lives in a good address, and we assume they have money. 

And this is the bane of modern existence. 

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We become entitled to other people’s resources. And for those who think friendship is a two-way street, and when their expectations are not met, maybe it is time you updated yourselves on the expectations. 

There is no such thing as a balanced friendship. Unless you are one of those transactional folks, whom I respect a lot, in friendships as in a marriage, people take turns being strong, generous and supportive to each other.

Because in life we have different gifts, strengths and such. I have friends who listen to my sob story when yet another Kisii girl has dumped me. I have friends I give money because they are not in a position. I have friends who bail me out more than I deserve. 

But I am humble enough to know unmerited favors. To know deserved favours. To know when the other friend is going through their own sh*t. 

Because there are people I don’t see for two years and when we meet next, we pick it from where we left, like old times. There are some that die a natural death, and I have to respect that some friendships like clouds were not to last forever, but they served a purpose. 

Here is my take. 

Nurture family first. While I no longer think of marriage and kids and all, if there is any case for marriage I will make is that your first family, well-nurtured is your first line of defense. Secondly, do your best to nurture a working relationship with brothers and sisters and cousins. 

That is for those that can work. And lastly, know your friends. Know your drinking buddies. Know the social friends for banter, memes, and all. Mark those boundaries, water those you can, utilise your time well in each. 

And when you are in a pit, know the timing matters. While friends should do their best to help their you when the chips are down, know that your woes sometimes may have some awful timing, and some of your friends may not come through as they should. And some, really couldn’t care less. And that is fine. 

I will remain grateful to those who show up. I will understand those who are caught up in their own nightmares. I will understand those who don’t have it in their hearts to come through. 

But over the years, what I learn, corporate friendships are the weakest. And for a reason. Few adult friendships, (after 25), are built to last. Friendships are nurtured by a shared childhood, schooling, college education and such. The rest, is a question of luck, or serendipity. 

Just know where you are at all times.


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