Dr. Zeba Hisam (Published in DAWN Magazine on Friday November 1,1996) It is not in human nature to live alone. Everyone needs someone to talk to. There are so many things that cannot be discussed with everyone. Friendship is such a relation that if one is lucky enough to have a close friend, life becomes meaningful. With a friend, I can exchange ideas, share companionship and seek guidance. I consider people, who have sincere, long-lasting friendship, very lucky. I have found that the friendship cord between women is weakened or broken with changes in their lives but among men this cord remains intact. I remember the stages right from my school days, which reminds me of my old friends and other girls who had a close friendship with each other. In my college days, I had such close friendships that they resulted in dependency upon friends. I found it difficult to face or tackle difficult situations alone. I found that all girls pose as if they are very courageous and confident when with friends. But when they have to do anything alone, like submitting a form to a department or any other office work, they seek the company of a friend. This dependency is not a good thing. I think about the factors, which weaken the friendship between two fast friends of the same sex. The one big factor was if a girl and a boy started an affair, they both tended to ignore other people. The distance increased gradually as their love flourished. Not only does the girl cut herself off from her friends, but the boy also starts avoiding his pals. I think being in love is not all there is to whole life. A person should continue other activities and relationships as well. After college, when women get married, their marriage also plays a major role in weakening the friendship cord between so-called fast friends. My cousins complain about the same things. After marriage, life changes altogether. Responsibility is given by this bond. For a married woman, initially life revolves around her husband, her in-laws, her house and later on, around her children. A woman finds herself lucky if she has an opportunity to visit her “miaika” (a paradise after marriage!) Friendship cannot remain the same in such circumstances. No matter how close the friends were, after marriage their closeness is hampered. If one girl gets married and her friend remains single, then they both cannot enjoy a similar theme. Life changes with the load of responsibility and so pass time. Not having anything in common, close friends become quite formal when they happen to meet. The exchange of confidences dries up and joy diminishes day by day. After marriage no woman has time to cope with friends, so the friendship ends in a sigh. I try to figure out why woman don’t keep up with their friends, although men seem to enjoy their friendship even after marriage. In this regard, I remember how my all efforts failed when I tried to contact my old friends after they got married. I was lonely end needed companionship, so I phoned my friend. She was so excited that before I could tell my story, she told me that she was about to get married the following month. She was the only one left single on my list. I attended her marriage and “valima”. After that, I tried to contact her many times at her mother’s house and at her “susral”. When luckily I found her on the other end of phone, her tone of voice told me that I should not call her any more. I invited her over, but she refused with the excuse that her husband comes late from office and she visits her parents once a week. I asked when she went to her “maika”; she hesitated and said nothing. I asked her to visit me at any convenient time or to call me over when comes to her mother’s house. She seemed to be putting me off by a vague OK. Many months passed, but she never called back. I didn’t want to disturb her. I could not believe that we both once were the most joyful of friends in college. One day, after a long time, I again tried to call her. I heard a baby crying in the background. I guessed something and asked. She replied that it was her baby’s voice, who was already six months old. The last time I saw her was on her “valima”. She must have had two or three children by now. I never disturbed her again. Maybe some people will argue that because of her kid, she could not meet her friend. So I’ll give another example of another old friend who was with me till my house job. She got married one year back. I invited her over, but every time she put me off by saying that her husband was busy. I thought if her husband was busy, then what about her? Couldn’t she ask him to do her a favor and drop her to her friend’s house or call her friend over to her own place? She does not have a child yet. Her cold tone of voice was enough to tell me to stop calling. I can’t believe it sometimes, when I see men enjoying the company of their friends even after marriage. They continue to have “gup shup” with friends. My father is an example of this. He has three fast friends for the last 40 years. So many changes took place in their lives, they even moved away for many years but never lost contact. Their friendship has remained the same. They all live in Karachi now with settled, grown-up children. They all have become dada and nana, but they still meet each other at my father’s house every Friday. They offer their “Juma” prayer together and then go out for lunch. Their eyes shine and their lively laughter echo in my mind. Despite his hypertension, diabetes, ischemic heart disease, coronary artery bypass grafting surgery and prostate problem, my father is fit “mashaallah”. I believe that his friends act like a medicine. May we women also become such miraculous friends for each other.