तेरे जैसा यार कहाँ, कहां ऐसा याराना, याद करेगी दुनिया, तेरा मेरा अफ़साना
मेरी ज़िन्दगी सवारी, मुझको गले लगाके, बैठा दिया फलक पे, मुझे खात से उठाके
यारा तेरी यारी को, मैंने तो खुदा माना, याद करेगी दुनिया, तेरा मेरा अफ़साना
This song is the epitome of ode to friendship and friends. We have all heard this song atleast one time in our lifetime. These lyrics evoke feelings of warmth, trust, love, happiness and camaraderie in each one of us.
Today, I am going to take you through a story about five friends, whose friendship has stood the test of time for 60 long years.
The quote below describes this friendship aptly.
Everyone has friends during each stage of life.
But only lucky ones have same friends in all stages of life.
These golden words are etched on the memento that stands on my table mantle, in a frame with pictures of all of us. A beautiful memory of the 50th wedding anniversary of one of my best friends; Satish Jain.
In this selfish and materialistic world, it is hard to find true friends. I am really lucky and fortunate to have formed friendships which have lasted for almost six decades and most importantly, still going strong.
Let us now explore the million-dollar question: Who is a true friend? I will say that a friend is someone who can always love the imperfect you, the confused you and most importantly, the wrong you.
What is the essence of friendship? The essence of friendship is to make allowances for a friend’s mistake.
Friendship in simple words is a relationship you have with your chosen family. This is the most beautiful relationship, I think, that you make by choice and not by birth.
Friendship is a package of good bad and ugly.
As Ghalib says, Mana ke dost Nikame thy Ghalib, par mehfil mein ronak unhi se thee.
Another poet calls out, आ कि तुझ बिन इस तरह ऐ दोस्त! घबराता हूँ मैं। जैसे हर शै में किसी शै की कमी पाता हूँ मैं॥
We were six friends initially:
· Ram Nath Bhola
· Jagmohan Tandon
· Surinder Aggarwal
· Satish Jain
· And me – Harish Segon
Now we are four. We lost our friend Pawan this year to COVID.
Our friend Ram Nath Bhola committed the cardinal sin of cheating his own friend, Jagmohan Tandon and lost our friendship. Bhola took money from Jagmohan many times and did not return it. Besides that, he also committed fraud on several hapless people. One day, he closed his factory in Jagadhari and vanished in thin air.
Satish Jain, my Sutradhar friend Satish belongs to a reputed business family, who initially started their business by trading in silver and silver refining. The family eventually bi-furcated into many different businesses over time. When I think of Satish, I think reliability, sincerity and honesty. We studied together in Jain College, Ambala. While still in college, he got selected for training as an Air Force Pilot. He left Air Force because he found it difficult to adjust to the regimes and specifically the food that was served in the mess.
Eventually, he decided to start his own work. His genes of belonging to the business family pulled him towards it.
There were many businesses that he tried his hand at. Once he started a wool business and opened his office in Sadar Bazar. All of us used to visit him with the main intention of tasting Nand ke Chole Bhature. Nand specialized in making Pindi Channas, famous for their taste all over Delhi. He is very fond of good quality Paan, specially laced with high quality kamam.
Satish lived in a joint family and all the family members accepted me as a member of their family. I still remember fondly how I was welcomed there, even if Satish was not at home. The memories of love and affection I was showered with, still overwhelm my heart.
Ultimately, Satish set up his factory in Delhi to make automobiles and home appliances parts. He is a master in this field now, having run it successfully for fifty one years. Like his other ventures, his business was also affected by COVID.
Another incident that often brings smile on my face is when I was staying in the Jain College Hostel as I had to catch a train next morning to participate in an inter-district match. At 2 pm in the night, we had a strong urge to have a cup of tea. Our friend Bhola was in deep sleep as he wanted to get up early morning for his studies. I quietly brought the alarm clock needle to two am and the alarm started ringing. Our dear friend Bhola, thinking time is five am, got up and made tea.
We requested him to make some tea for us also. We had our cup of tea and told Bhola, thanks for tea dost, you could now enjoy another three hours of sleep.
He cursed us and went back to sleep. We continued our conversation till the morning, and it was soon time for me to leave for railway station.
During the match, as expected, I felt terribly sleepy. I was fielding at mid- wicket. The batsman hit the ball hard and it came flying in my direction. Everyone was shouting in excitement. As a reflex action, I jumped in the air, extending my left hand. The ball hit the middle of my palm and stuck there.
Everyone clapped and shouted as it was a sensational, great catch. I looked towards the sky and thanked god. Only if my team knew what I was up to, the whole night!! I also took four wickets in the match. My team, Ambala district cricket team won the match by a good margin.
Satish is married to Shailja Bhabhi and has two lovely children. A pivot among his friends, he is the Sutradhar who keeps the group together.
Jag Mohan Tandon, my hardworking friend with a beautiful voice and heart: Satish Jain introduced me to Jagmohan when I came to Delhi on my first leave in 1964 after joining my first regiment in Sikkim. Our friendship has lasted till today and God willing will continue for the rest of our life.
Jag Mohan's grandfather retired as district sessions judge from Lahore. After partition, his father worked with Johnson and Nicholson Paints for several years before retiring due to ill health of his mother. Jagmohan could not continue his studies after matriculation as he suffered from acute eye problem, called detachment of the eye retina.
Jagmohan was sharp, witty and possessed quick reflexes. He had good memory and was intelligent. God had blessed him with melodious silken smooth voice. Satish helped Jagmohan set up a scooter repairing shop, which had to be closed after eighteen months causing Jagmohan much frustration.
I was also back from Ambala after a disastrous business venture in shoe manufacturing and retail. I knew a bit about what did not work in business by then.
It was hot summer afternoon when Jagmohan came to my house in Neta ji Nagar and poured out frustrations of his heart before me. I listened to him patiently. He shared how one of his relatives had a shoe factory at Ghanta Ghar. I suggested to him that he should join him to gain experience in leather business. I still remember saying, “Who knows one day you may have your own factory manufacturing leather goods.” Leather industry is like gold mine, go join it, I advised. God's were listening.
Perhaps, his destiny was beckoning him. He picked up the signal, joined the shoe factory and rest is history. After working in the shoe factory for a few years, he joined a renowned export house. After 19 years of being in the leather industry, he decided to set up his own business with his two friends. He went solo after ten years, and has since been a successful businessman.
Jagmohan success never changed his love for his friends. He is still my friend with a heart of gold.
Jagmohan is married to Rani bhabi and has two beautiful children.
Surinder Aggarwal, my dependable friend Surinder is not just my friend. He is also my brother in law, the husband of my dear sister, Mithilesh. Surinder and I both met in Jain college, Ambala. Surinder was in the science group along with Satish and Bhola. I was in Arts group.
We used to refer to him as Tanhai, a lonely person. Lean and lanky, he spoke less and gave the impression of being in some sort of inner turmoil.
We learnt later that he lost his mother as a child and his father married a second time but his stepmother could never take place of his real mother.
Surinder also got selected in the Indian Airforce as a pilot officer when he was studying at Jain college. After his marriage to my sister, he once came to meet me at home. After a few drinks, food and long happy chat, he felt like having hot milk with jalebis. We went all the way to Tilak Nagar at mid night in winter chill of December in a rickshaw to satisfy his urge. That is friendship.
When Surinder was posted in Delhi, all the friends visited the Air Force mess frequently and enjoyed generous hospitality of Surinder.
Pawan Jain, my smiling friend we lost to COVID Pawan was introduced to me by Satish. He was a handsome young man, always smiling when with friends. He was the first one in the group to be married in 1966. He was preparing for his chartered accountancy examination at that time.
Pawan’s life was always full of ups and downs. He started several small ventures but could not make much headway. He set up a shoe factory to make uppers. After many hiccups, the shoe business picked up, and they started making good profits. That was their finest hour in business.
Besides uppers, they started making full shoes also. Unfortunately, slump in business hit them again, following COVID.
Pawan was a highly religious man who went on many Jain Yatras along with Satish. For many different reasons, Satish could not arrange the Jain Yatras for the last six years despite Pawan’s frequent requests. Pawan is no more and Satish says he will regret not being able to fulfil Pawan’s request all his life. This is friendship.
Pawan was married to Darshana Bhabhi, and has two wonderful sons.
All my friends of six decades have one thing in common, respect for elders. You can say that all of us are part of a large family. I have many other friends and these friendships lasted for sometime and then we parted ways.
A friendship of six decades is certainly a thing to be proud of. This story is dedicated to true friendship, which is so rare now.
Remember, a friend is someone who can see three things in you:
The sorrow behind your smile
The love behind your anger
The reason behind your silence
You will always find these attributes in a true friend
Call that friend today and tell them how much they mean to you! Cheers