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The value of friendship, old and new

Happy New Year everyone! How time flies! Mark my words, very soon we’ll be wishing everyone the same greeting again.

Twelve months breeze past without a trace. All that remains are the battle scars, for some, and a satisfying smile, for many others.

Everyone has a story to tell about 2015. For some, 2015 has been a bruising year. But that won’t stop us from looking ahead with hope and renewed commitment.


Three SK Bukit Bandaraya pupils sharing a moment on the last day of Year 6,with words of encouragement and congratulations penned on their school shirts. Time flies, and things change, but friendships must never be taken for granted. File pic


And, perhaps, with wisdom, too, God willing.

Judging from the messages circulating on social media by friends to friends on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp or Telegram, friendship and kinship seems to be thriving.

A few days before the year ended, New Year greetings of all sorts were being sent.

That started the rush of sending greetings and replying, a task most of us seemed to relish for a few days.

But that’s all good for virtual relationships. All you need is a smart phone and connectivity. You can send greetings across the globe, to whoever you want.

But the real test is in the physical relationships that we have in our everyday lives. With parents, loved ones, colleagues, friends and associates.

You can start a friendship quite easily. But you don’t need reminders that you have to work to make a relationship last and endure all the tests thrown at it.

You can’t just leave friendship to grow by itself. Taking your friendship for granted can mean disaster. I witnessed a new relationship being struck a few days ago.

A young businessman, in his late 30s, entered a fish-head curry restaurant along Jalan Imbi. This was my first visit there. The young man saw two women road sweepers also ordering their lunch. What he did was heart-warming.

He signaled to the cashier that he would pay for the two sweepers’ lunch. And he did.

When the two went to the cashier to pay for their food, they were pleasantly surprised that someone had given them a treat! “Kakak tu buat kerja tengah panas. Bukan kerja senang. Tapi mereka buat kerja cari rezeki halal. Apa salahnya saya belanja? Bukan selalu pun.” (The two were sweeping the road in the hot sun. That’s not an easy job. But they wanted to earn their keep in an honest way. My treat was too small. And it’s not as if I get to treat them every day).

That was the businessman’s reply when I told him I was surprised by what he did.

Over the weekend, I was told of a slightly different story of friendship and camaraderie. A group of handpicked recruits from the armed forces had undergone training to prepare them for the service.

Let’s hear his story: “We are part of a small group. Two of us were being punished for some misdeed. While undergoing training, these punishments were also intended to toughen us up.

“So, while two of us were being punished, those who were not punished were made to see the punishment meted out.

After a while, a fellow recruit stood up and asked that he be punished, too.

“Then another, and another. In the end, everyone in the group asked that they be punished even though only two of us were guilty of the minor misdeed.

“The incident gave us a new meaning of comradeship. They taught us the value of friendship, of sticking together.

“In the armed forces, we must stick together and protect each other’s backs. This can only be done if there’s a strong bond of comradeship.

“Actually, this is also needed in ordinary lives. Not just in the armed forces,” said the young recruit.

He only just turned 20 this year, but is already displaying much maturity.

So, if you have not yet sent your New Year greetings, or birthday greetings, other greetings, please do so now.

Such greetings are intended to tell your friends that they are very much on your mind.

You lose nothing by sending a few words of encouragement, appreciation or affection. Its only three days into 2016.

There’s still time to let others know that you are thinking of them.

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