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May 16, 2018

Two Best Friends by Jude Idada

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Two Best Friends by Jude Idada

They are best friends.

These two.

Who met while walking on the corridors of work.
A fast friendship that developed without conscious effort.
Lunch together at the office cafeteria that progressed to -"What are you doing after work?"
Then to.

"Whats up for the weekend?"
And before they realized it, they were spending most of their time together.

A pair.

Nouveau bachelors.

Since their wives and children were living in America, while they paid all their bills from Nigeria.
Great jobs these two friends have.

Handsome salaries.

You hung with them and you saw how they spent money.
Taking turns covering the bill.
"Let me pick the bill."
One will say.
The next time.
"I will pick this."
The other one will say.
Another time.

"I saw these cool leather sandals. I picked one for myself and one for you."
Another time.

The other one will say.
"Hey, I am at this joint. They have really cool hausa hats. I have sent you pictures via Whatsapp. Check them and pick the one you like, so I can buy it."
Their friendship was like it.
Money never an issue.

As life will have it one of the friends got another job at a different company.
The other friend advised him to take it.
More money.
Less work.
More time to visit family.
He took it.
All was rosy.

They still hung out in any spare time they could find.
Very close to what they had before save for the not working in the same office.

Then the economy happened.

The one who got the new job, lost the new job.
The other one consoled him and cheered him on.
He was bouyant for a while as he searched for something new.
His savings were rotund.
But as the search continued without success, his savings began to lose weight.
Until it looked anorexic.

All the while, the two friends still hung out.
But progressively with a difference.
Unlike before, the one with a job now picked up most of the bills.
And picked up less of the phone calls of the one without a job.
Less, Less until there were no - "let me call you back." - "My phone was on silent the whole day." - "I called you back, your line was redirecting my calls." - "It is this network, I didn't see any of your calls."
Then Silence For Months.

The time in which the one without a job calmly carried his cross alone.
He moved out to stay with another friend who all this while was never part of their hang outs.
Never invited to the parties.
Never a regular in his life or their lives.
But yet an old friend.
Dating back to high school.

But one who came to the rescue when he heard what was going on with his old friend.
He didn't have a fancy house.
Neither did he have a rosy job.
But he had a bed to spare.
A large heart.
And a small but very generous pocket.

He was there when the old friend needed him most.
He was there to call another of their old friends who lived in America and coincidentally in the same city with the family of his friend who had lost his job.
That friend in America, opened his door for the family of the friend without a job.
That friend helped work out the transfer of the children of the friend without a job to a public and more affordable school.

That friend helped link up the wife of the friend without a job to a woman who gave her a job.
These two old friends were present.
And life happened.
And the friend without a job, got a job.
A better job.
A higher paying job.

In the month, after his first allowances came in, he moved out.
New digs.
In months, his wife stopped working and the kids transferred to a more expensive private school.
And the old friends that had stood by him saw less of him.
And the friend who was once his best friend began to see more of him.
Until they were back to what they once were.
Picking bills turn by turn.

And one day during the birthday party of the one who had lost the job, I noticed his old friend who had stood by him was not at the party.

So I asked the friend who lost his job and his best friend and found a better job and a rekindled friendship why the old friend was not there.
He said.
"There was no point inviting him. He will be so out of place."
I stood there looking at him in silent pity.
He read my mind and spoke.

"Jude, I know what you are thinking. But you won't understand. There is a point a man reaches in his life, where he needs to compartmentalize friendships. There is no romantizing it. You have friends for various reasons. I know he was there for me, but that was his role. I have passed that phase now and for me to maintain that friendship as I maintain this one, it would be fatalistic. I will be trapped there and not progress. He is a friend that mourns with you when you fall off the ladder. His friendship thrives only when you are not doing well. When you are suffering. So I have to be wise to be with him at that time if not he will drag me down and keep me at his level with the smallness of his mind and the danger of envy and inferiority complex. But this guy here opens the world to me when I am on my A game. The right crowd. The right opportunities. The level in society where things happen."
I stared at him silently.

He continued.
"I am not fooling myself about defining friendship as what it is not. We all are selfish and self preserving. Are there not old friends that he knew are doing worse off than I was doing when he helped him? Of course there were. But helping the once rich guy made him feel good about himself. Far better than helping a guy who never had anything. He wanted to be part of my story. The hero. I appreciate it. I asked him if there is anyway I could help him? Any dreams of his I could bring to life? He said no. That I didn't need to reward him for helping me. That God will do so if at all he needs to be rewarded. You see. He is comfortable in that mindset. At peace with his level in life. For me, I was created to have more and be more. Now let me continue writing my story. Let my man here also serve his purpose in my life. I know what I am doing. It might look how it looked like before, but it's not. I nearly lost all, he hasn't. I now know what he does not know. Worry for him, not for me."

Still I looked at him silently.
Still he continued.
"Jude, gratitude does not have to be shown foolishly and there is a reason why rich people don't keep poor friends. Wealth and poverty are contagious. If my wealth cannot infect you and make you rich, then your poverty will infect me and make me poor."

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