A FRIEND IN NEED IS A FRIEND INDEED
Those friends thou hast and their adoption tried
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel.
The lines from Hamlet have a string of doubt behind them. Shakespeare himself was betrayed by one of his fast friends who stole his beloved. In ‘As You Like it’ he is more vehement when he says ‘Most friendship is feigning’. A rich many generally steals the show only till his pocket is full. The people around him are all sycophants. They leave him when he has nothing to give. Prosperity is not the touchstone of friendship Adversity tells a man his true friends.
Friendship has been very challenging for Prophets and saints. Jesus had a large number of followers – his real friends. Still none dare come to save him from being stuck to the cross. None could face the onslaught of the opponents. Socrates had friends. But they could not fight against the tyranny of Greek autocrats. St. Joan of Arc commanded a big army against the Britons. She was befriended by all the French including the clergy. The same clergy betrayed her and handed her over to the British to be burnt at the stake.
A politician is all in mirth when he comes to power. He is in the heaven full of friends. Mrs. Indira Gandhi faced betrayal from her dose friends twice. When she fell on bad days immediately after Emergency those who would raise slogans ‘India is Indira – Indira is India’ disappeared. Except one all betrayed her. Some of her very close associates were her when she fell to the bullets of the assassin. Nose but she alone had to face the final attack. In her days of adversity she had no friends.
Even a patriot is betrayed by his friends. A Chandra Shekhar Azad is sold to the Britishers by one of his friends. All the revolutionaries in the Kakori case got arrested by one of their friends. It is the common man, the man in the street who can generally be proud of his friends. A Damon would offer himself as a substitute to his friend Phythias to be hanged. A.B.K. Dutta would opt himself to remain incognito throughout his life after his release to assist the mother and sister of his friend Bhagat Singh. A poor villager can still find friends to assist and help him in his days of adversity. Friendship, a reality among the poor, is a rare commodity among the people in power. The poor have friends indeed. The modern man has none in need.