01 January 2019

There’s a secret friend waiting for you

Several years ago, I wrote a regular column for the JEANS section of 'The Nation'.  The editor of JEANS, Kusumanjalee Thilakarathna now handles the 'Littlestars' tabloid distributed with 'The Sunday Morning'. This is the eleventh article for Littlestars.  Scroll down to find the full series of articles written for JEANS and the those of this new series.

‘…just waiting for me like some secret friend…’ is a line from an old song. It refers to a man who wakes up in the middle of the night and spots his guitar. For a guitarist, his or her guitar is certainly a friend.  An instrument could give comfort, companionship and peace of mind, I’m sure.  

Friends comfort us. Friends with names. School friends, for example. Neighbors too.  Even pets are friends and sometimes they put smiles on our faces when we are sad. 

There was once, for example, a little girl who often felt quite alone. She was the youngest in her family and all her three brothers were considerably older than her. She was considered too small to play with them or be part of their conversations. Their parents were usually busy doing other important things; they didn’t have time for their little girl. 

So she would tell all her stories to Bella, their pet dog. She would read Bella bedtime stories. She would keep Bella informed about what’s happening in the world. She knew what was happening around her only by listening to what others in the household said. She often got it all wrong, but Bella didn’t seem to mind. Bella was a huge dog and much bigger than the little girl. The girl would sometimes lean against Bella and read stories. She would fall asleep that way.

The important thing for her was that she had someone to tell things to, someone who would listen to her. Bella never responded, true, but she always felt that Bella was listening and that Bella understood.  

Michael Jackson once sang a song about a pet rat. The song was written by Don Black and the melody was composed by Walter Scharf for a movie called ‘Ben’. Ben, apparently, was a pet rat. Just read these lyrics…

Ben, the two of us need look no more
We both found what we were looking for
With a friend to call my own
I'll never be alone, and you, my friend, will see
You've got a friend in me
Ben, you're always running here and there
You feel you're not wanted anywhere
If you ever look behind and don't like what you find
There's something you should know, you've got a place to go.

Not all friends looks like us. Not all of them go to school. Some don’t even speak our language. Some don’t move — like the guitar in Kenny Rogers’ song ‘She believes in me.’

I have friends who’ve told me they have secret friends no one knows about. Such friends have names. If you asked about them, you’ll be told a lot of things. Sometimes you feel your friends are lying, but sometimes you really can’t tell. What’s important is that these secret friends (like pets or guitars) can make a difference to your life, especially when it seems no one talks to you, no one listens to you or no one understands you.  

Do you have friends? Don’t you have friends? Maybe you can start talking to your guitar, if you have one, or even a pencil case or a set of crayons. Maybe they’ll listen and you’ll be convinced they are listening. They might even say something to you, in their own way, and even though no one would understand, maybe you would! 


Articles for THE NATION
Ignorance is an exciting thing!
Un-cluttering is an art
Venus-Serena tied at love-all
Some jokes are not funny
There's an ant story waiting for you
And you can be a rainbow-maker
Trees are noble teachers
On cloudless nights the moon is a hole
Gulp down those hurtful words
A question is a boat, a jet, a space-ship or a heart
Quotes can take you far but they can also stop you
No one is weak
The fisherman in a black shirt
Let's celebrate Nelli and Nelliness
Ready for time travel?
Puddles look back at you, did you know?
What's the view like from your door?
The world is rearranged by silhouettes
How would you paint the sky?
It is cool to slosh around
You can compose your own music
Pebbles are amazing things
You can fly if you want to
The happiest days of our lives
So what do you want to do with the rain?
Still looking for that secret passage?
Maybe we should respect the dust we walk on
Numbers are beautiful 
There are libraries everywhere 
Collect something crazy
Fragments speak of a thousand stories 
The games you can and cannot play with rice
The magic of the road less-traveled
Have you ever thought of forgiving?
Wallflowers are pretty, aren't they?
What kind of friend do you want to be? 
Noticed the countless butterflies around you?
It's great to chase rainbows
In praise of 'lesser' creatures 
A mango is a book did you know?
Expressions are interesting things
How many pairs of eyes do you need?
So no one likes you?
There is magic in faraway lights
The thambilil-seller of Giriulla
When people won't listen, things will
Lessons of the seven-times table