The Right Friend

I was listening to Rob Henderson narrate one of his posts about how we tend to gravitate toward people from similar socioeconomic backgrounds. When I was nine years old, my parents transferred me from a small convent with low fees to a large private girls’ school in Colombo (high fees). They thought it would help me learn English, get a good job, and live a much better life than they did. And it did happen – exactly in that order. But I was a loner in school. I couldn’t communicate with the English-speaking little girls. They were well-organized in their own cliques. The majority of them had started school in kindergarten, while I, the outsider, arrived in grade three. It wasn’t a lot of fun. However, during this period in school, my friends (who were few) were mostly from similar families to mine. I  never visited their homes or met their parents until I was much older, but it was strange how similar we are. Now that I’ve listened to Rob Henderson, maybe it’s not so strange at all.

The wealthy children banded together. Even though they weren’t mean kids, the circles appeared to be quite close. The rest of us were more erratic in our affiliations, spending one day with one group and the next with another. I tried to recall whether we were aware of who was wealthy and who was not. We were all dressed in the same uniform, but there were hints. When the teachers collected money for a charity or donation, the wealthy students gave thousands of rupees while the rest gave two hundred. How do we know this? The teacher would loudly praise the big donors. In their defense, the system was very different 35 years ago. Nobody gave it much thought. But how did friendships turn out?

I’m not sure where and how the rich kids ended up; perhaps they’re still close. But I have two or three close friends. Working and full-time mothers who are too busy to meet but remain good friends. During our school days, it was common knowledge that students from certain schools were preferred for most jobs. Most of us did not attend university; instead, we got jobs. Our higher education came after we were working full-time, married, and had children. Our children are now caught up in the same cycle. And it’s fascinating to see how they choose their friends. Birds of a feather flock together.

One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s