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Choose your friends wisely

Dr Dhananjay (Jay) Datar
Filed on July 1, 2021


Once I was travelling to Mumbai when I encountered a peculiar incidence. I was in my youth then. During a conversation with my co-passenger, he casually asked me whether I was carrying any presents for my friends or relatives. I replied in negative saying that neither I nor my friends back in India ever expected any gifts from each other and our friendship was solely based on trust. He smiled and congratulated me for having such a nice friend circle. A little surprised, I asked him why he had reacted so. He told me about his frustrating experience with his friends.

This person, after getting an overseas job, had initially gifted various novel articles to his friends, relatives and neighbours. But soon he was fed up with their rising expectations. What was more astonishing was that they wanted these gifts for free. The ongoing demands included jewellery, perfumes and the latest gadgets. He and his family became so disturbed that they started avoiding these acquaintances. At last he hatched a plan. He pretended that he had lost his overseas job and started working somewhere with daily wages. To convince them he even began wearing simple and faded clothes. Each time he landed at the airport, he would first change his clothes at his friend’s house, would wear worn outfits and then go home empty handed. This trick worked well. His neighbours and friends believed that he really had lost his overseas job. Since then no one asked him for a gift. But it became habitual for him to continue the drama. That is why he was congratulating me and calling me a happy person.

It reminded me of the tragic story of a person named Ameen Bhai. He was from a wealthy family. Ameen Bhai’s nature was kind and philanthropic. He would always be ready to help needy people. Even his friend circle was vast and he liked to arrange feasts frequently, taking the expenses upon himself. Slowly his friends began taking advantage of his naivety. Some of them even borrowed large sums from him. Meanwhile Ameen Bhai’s father passed away and the ancestral property was divided among the three sons. Ameen Bhai got one third share.

Actually this was the first warning signal, but Ameen Bhai overlooked it. He continued with his charities and luxurious lifestyle as usual. This continued only for a decade and then his wealth began to erode. He had to sell his property. Eventually Ameen Bhai became penniless. To top it all off, he was diagnosed with cancer. He had nothing to meet the expenses of his medical treatment. Ameen Bhai helplessly pleaded to every friend but most of them avoided him and acted distant with him. Only a handful of them remembered his generosity and extended their help. It was to no avail. Ameen Bhai soon passed away.

A proverb worth remembering — “Wealth makes many friends, but the poor is separated from his neighbour”.





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