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If we all cheered each other on, backed each other up, got behind each other’s choices, I dare say women will be a force to be reckoned with.
‘She just doesn’t understand that I can’t bring a colicky, teething baby to a restaurant. After all, she doesn’t have children of her own.’
‘How can she expect me to meet her for lunch on a Monday afternoon just because her nanny leaves at 5? Do I report to my boss or her nanny? I wish she’d get a clue.’
This was the kind of callous lack of understanding and acceptance that ultimately caused Anya and I to drift apart from each other. In hindsight, I have to confess that I can’t help but feel a stab of regret every time I think of her.
Anya and I had been friends since we smiled at each other for the very first time across a crowded lecture hall. We were both in the same MBA class. I remember the warm, fuzzy feeling I got when we realised that were we both ardent Gerard Butler fans and self-confessed fitness freaks who went to the same gym!
Anyway, it didn’t take us long to discover that those weren’t the only things we had in common. Suffice it to say that not long after, we found ourselves finishing each other’s sentences, laughing hysterically at each other’s corny jokes. We were inseparable enough that our common friends actually started referring to us as ‘that old married couple.’
Years later, despite having made very different choices and decisions, our friendship was still going strong. We didn’t see each other as often as before of course but we’d make it a point to meet at least once a week for dinner.
I think we both realised that we weren’t in college anymore and our friendship needed a little extra TLC now. So we’d treat those weekly dinners as sacrosanct and make a sincere effort not to allow anything to come in the way.
I still remember the day we had our first serious difference of opinion. And I think our polar opposite choices had caught up with us, after all. I was married with a young baby and on maternity leave. She was still single and enjoying a fulfilling career.
I had my hands full of playdates and birthday parties and doctor appointments. She was attending seminars and conferences all over the world. In a nutshell, we were speaking completely different languages.
Once she said that she wanted to change the venue of our dinner to a restaurant closer to her office. And I categorically told her that I was too beat after an exhausting birthday party. (Our dinners had been relegated from weekly to monthly anyway.)
‘I have a husband who travels all the time and a baby or didn’t you notice?’ I asked her sarcastically. It was probably the lack of sleep that must have done it.
‘I have a crazy job which leaves me no time to eat or didn’t you notice?’ she retorted equally caustically.
In retrospect, I can’t help but wonder whether, behind that veneer of lack of understanding, there was some barely concealed judgement as well. Sadly, despite the genuine love we had for each other, our friendship couldn’t stand the test of different choices.
Later, I had these questions float in my mind innumerable times. Why was it so difficult for two women who were so close, to extend themselves a little to understand and appreciate each other? (No matter how diverse the decisions may have been.)
Everywhere I went, I looked at her. I tried to step into her shoes. The woman sitting next to me on the subway. Or the female boss I report to in the office. The nanny helps out with my child. My mother, my grandmother.
Despite all of us leading very different lives which are a result of our very different choices, haven’t we all been at similar crossroads at some point? Haven’t we all faced the same insecurities and uncertainties, asked ourselves the same questions, some time or the other?
I came to one conclusion. There really is no sight as beautiful, as heart-warming, as endearing, as to see a woman supporting and celebrating another woman’s choices.
Whether that is the teenaged daughter who understands her mum’s choice of being a working mom instead of a stay-at-home one like her best friend’s. Or the mother-in-law who supports her daughter-in-law’s decision to divorce her abusive son.
It could be the doctor mum who applauds her daughter’s choice to be a homemaker instead of pursuing a career. Or it could even be the best friend who throws a surprise party in honour of her friend’s promotion.
If we all cheer each other on, back each other up, get behind each other’s choices, I dare say we will be a force to be reckoned with.
Finally, speaking of getting behind each other’s choices, how can I forget that famous dialogue from the show ‘Sex and the City?’ ‘I need you to get behind my choice.’
Charlotte was thinking about quitting her job at a leading art gallery and she wanted her successful, work-obsessed, lawyer friend to back her up. Whether that decision was correct or not is not really the point here. Everything else notwithstanding, what Charlotte was looking for at that moment was unconditional, non-judgemental support from her closest friends.
When I think about Anya and myself, I do wish that either one of us had said these words out loud to the other. Get behind my choice. If we had, perhaps we’d still be friends.
Picture credits: Still from Amazon Prime series Four More Shots, Please
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Rrashima is a senior corporate analyst with over 20 years of experience in the corporate
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