The Fair-Weather Friend

by Anita Menon

I have a friend with whom I chat atleast few times a week.  She is a great gal whom I have known for long. She too is a new mom and I have plenty to discuss with her. She tells me everything about her life, her husband, her new baby, her in laws, her lows and her highs. I listen to her and sometimes only listen to her. But when the time comes for me to discuss about my problems or anything that I feel I need some advice or guidance from her, she quickly excuses herself and hangs up. I observed this quite a few times but did not think much it.  I simply shrugged and got on with my work. Afterall I know how taxing a life of a new mom can be. We could continue the conversation some other time. But the trend continued and it began to bother me. She was interested as long as I was talking about all the good stuff in my life and the moment I change the cassette to side B, she disappeared from the other end. This botheration turned to a grudge and one day when she rung up, I did not pick up. Somewhere in my heart she was on the “FWF” ( Fair Weather Friend) list. I have compartments in my heart/mind where I put people such as- (ML- catagory)- My Life Catagory which includes my hubby, my daughter , brother and parents. I exist for them, by them and of them. There are many such catagories and lists but discussing them here seems to be outside the purview of the topic decided.

It has been two months and I haven’t spoken to her. She seems to have taken a cue and has stopped calling me too. I felt betrayed in many ways as I felt, I was always there for her ( even if it was on  the phone or the internet) when she needed me but when it was my turn to ask for her, she always avoided me. I do not need such friends in my life, I decided. I discussed the whole matter with Amit,  who did not have much to say in the matter. But after much prodding, he said that I shouldn’t view the world in Black and White. There are shades of gray which are difficult to understand. It was always best to discuss it with the concerned person and deal with it in a mature fashion. But I was so too upset to be, act or even pretend to be mature. I felt she disrespected me in many ways by not being there and that is just not the way to be!!!

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It is September and my daughter’s FIRST birthday was round the corner. I was upbeat about the coming Eid holidays too as it would give Amit and me sufficient time to plan her birthday. But first things first, we needed to buy her a beautiful birthday dress for the occasion. Amit then reminded me that it was high time that I shopped for myself too. I too checked on when was the last time I had shopped and my memory didn’t support me. So it was decided, we would embark on the this grand shopping expedition. I was beaming with joy and excitement as the Eid holidays approached fast.

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What a beautiful evening!

Long awaited and finally it turns out to be perfect. Ofcourse it had some shopping, more shopping and only shopping ( with some terrific Turkish dinner in the end). Making my way through the myriad denizens the covered and the uncovered; I ploughed my way through them all. My eyes were besotted with by the MAX Azarias, the Fendi, the Salvatore Ferragamo alike. I went in there  searching for the perfect dress, that bag, the accessories, the shoes. It had to be perfect. Just before I embarked on my personal search, I had already bought the perfect dress ( in fact dresses) for my baby. One black and one white ( Pearl white actually). After all it was her birthday. Her first birthday. She chose the black dress on her own. The white was Amit’s pick. With her packets in tow, I scanned for what might be my special-dress-to-be. We went to each shop and I felt I wasn’t able to single out a dress. Everything was so expensive and I did not have the heart to shell out such big bucks somehow. Amit felt bewildered at my refusal to pick any of the lovely dresses. I kept convincing him that they wouldn’t look good on me as I had still so much to lose. It would be such a waste if I wouldn’t be able to wear these expensive outfits after a few months when I would have shed some pounds ( at this I caught Amit rolling his eyes up towards the ceiling— I knew what he was thinking— All wishful thinking— but it did not matter— I would lose weight eventually—–I think)

So the shopping expedition continued for four hours and I had practically scaled all the floors of the mall with no success at all. Finally we dragged our feet to the nearest ATM as Amit wanted to withdraw some cash and I saw MAX and I decided to walk around till Amit came back from the ATM. As I walked the aisle, I started to notice some smart outfits and checked the prices. Lo and behold, they were just right.  This was the place  I could actually buy stuff and not worry about it not being any good a few months down the lane. I quickly picked up a handful and to Amit’s relief, decided to call it a day. I was super- happy with my purchase but somehow Amit seemed perturbed about something. Attributing it to weariness of the shopping exercise, I did not push him for an explanation.

When we were waiting for the taxi, he came up to me and asked,” Are you really happy with your purchase?”

I said, “Yes, I am! Why?”

“Well it is just that , whatever you bought is just not your style! This is not how you dress!!”

To which I remarked,”Everything is so expensive Amit! I do not feel like splurging so much when I know it wouldn’t look good on me , any how!”

“Do you think it is fair?”

“What is?”

“The way you are treating yourself? You think it wouldn’t look good on you because you haven’t lost the weight you imagine is ideal for a dress. If you ask me, it is not fair.”

I was stumped! Food for thought indeed.

I was my own FWF!!! The discrimination I showed towards my own body because of the way it looked at any point in time was appalling. During my lean period ( read, when I am on the heavier side) I do not feel it justified to spend on myself.

The very next day, I called my friend ( the one I called FWF) and apologized to her for not calling and keeping in touch.

I have no right to judge her being fair weather or not when I, myself was so unfair to my own self, my body. As per Amit’s advice, I broached the topic and clarified what and how I felt about her attitude. She was gracious enough to accept and the reason she cited was, she felt she was inept in dealing with other people’s problems. She felt awkward and incapable of offering solace, support or encouragement of any kind. It was  a problem she had always struggled with and felt helpless about it. I felt worse after listening to this strange affliction and decided to be more supportive about it.

But will I buy something that I feel, I truly deserve… would have to wait and see until the next shopping trip.

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