One of the fiercest arguments I've ever had with Anu was about objectivity.
Anu is my best friend. Were it possible for me to have another woman as my sister in the truest sense of the word, then it would have to be her. After our relationship turned a decade, we simply stopped counting.
And in all that time, we've seldom argued. I usually reserve my comments when Anu starts anything that would likely escalate into an argument and do myself a gross disservice because Anu is one of the best people to argue with. And you can tell that she clearly enjoys it which makes it, if not enjoyable, then at least challenging.
Our argument that day arose because I was bitching to her about my cousin or some colleague/classmate and being the Libran she is, Anu just had to be fair and show me where I could possibly have been in error as well.
And since I was already irritated, (She was too; I remember it was the month of her wedding and we were all stressed) I lost my resolve not to argue and let it be.
I heard myself launching into an argument about friendship, expectations, and loyalty. I told her that I expect a friend to empathise with me when I bitch. To which her comeback was, "What sort of a friend would I be if I don't give you an objective opinion?"
We both had plenty to say on the subject and since both of us get loud and excited when we speak (even normally) this conversation (it was on the phone) threw two households into a tizzy. Two sets of parents thought we were finally breaking up.
We still haven't resolved the issue theoretically, but in practice we've agreed to first show empathy and then talk objectively.
For me it's easy. Even though I am a Gemini and usually see nearly all the facets of an issue as a friend completes a story, my first instinct is to side with my friends.
In any story involving the world and my friend (even if the world is just another set of friends) I side with the traumatised/irate/unhappy friend first.
That's not praise-worthy or extremely empathetic, that's just me.
And then I try and get them to see the issue objectively in a manner that makes it less traumatic and help them find the most beneficial solution. Usually, I succeed. Even if I don't, my friends know that they can tell me anything under the sun and expect a sympathetic ear. And not be judged in the telling.
Sometimes, I even end up fighting for them. It was one of the main reasons I was unpopular with a few teachers at school.
If I think I am right about something, I usually fight for it even if the issue actually involves a friend and has nothing to do with me.
Again, that's just me – an absolute terror to a certain class of people - usually those without class who wish my friends harm.
But after what happened to me recently, I conclude that I'm more of an anachronism than I thought I was, and not just because I saw The Matrix 10 years after its release!
Loyalty and the concept of standing up for what you know is right is passé in today's world. There's not even an attempt to recognise/acknowledge the quintessential fight between right and wrong that occurs in all our lives.
Non-involvement is the key to success.
Passion, love, friendship and all such relationship drivers are restricted only to good, happy, superficial fun these days.
The first human instinct in most "friends" today is to run for cover when the going gets tough or the lines blur to grey.
I experienced it first-hand while I was dealing with a personal crisis about right and wrong. In the guise of being a peaceable, I'm-above-all-this personality, I had a friendly soul say to me, "But, I am neutral. Anyway, what about this Sunday? Are we meeting for coffee?"
And that is supposed to be a completely legitimate and acceptable response not worthy of my indignation or shock.
Because we are friends and surely I must know. We meet for coffee. We share a few laughs with a few other friends.
This is why relationships like the one I share with Anu are beyond precious even if we were to have ten thousands of bring-the-roof-down arguments that leave us both unsettled and exhausted.
It's the comfort of having someone feel indignant about the things that go wrong in your life, wanting to do something about it for you, even if it is something as simple as taking your side.
It's like the refreshment of an Irish landscape, the passion of French cuisine, the discomfort of London weather, and the complete chaos of Bangalore traffic. There's never anything Swiss and neutral about it.
And you know what?
We manage to go months without meeting for coffee!