Friends and money


Money is the root cause of all evil, the saying goes.  Evil being an abstract term attracts many things on its list depending on one’s perception of evil. Is it not the root cause of all luxury too and who doesn’t want a piece of luxury? This blog is not about luxury though but something that is more precious than it (and I know I am sounding a moralist)- friendship. Money and friendship do not go hand in hand. I have seen a beautiful group of friends break-up over money and never to be reunited again, despite my efforts. (Un)fortunately, I have retained most of my friends and money has never been the cause. Perhaps because I’ve never had enough to lend it to anyone and never had less to borrow from others. (I can still rely on my amazing set of parents and a ‘Good Samaritan’ who know that my freelancing is more of a  hobby than a regular source of income and they continue to support me.)

So yes, that means I have more to offer in kind than in cash.  Therefore, lending money becomes almost impossible for me. I am glad I was still able to extract a meager amount of money for my friend many years ago who must be then in a dire need to ask me despite knowing my situation. He even returned the money as soon as he was able to and best of all, we continue to remain good friends till date. But honestly, as far as I remember there was a slight sense of discomfort then. I wanted to help him and I was glad I was able to and somewhere at the back of my head was a thought lingering in my head as to should I ask him when he would be returning the money or would it sound rude.

A somewhat similar situation arose a few weeks ago, after all these years, with another very good friend of mine. Only this time there was a twist. The friend was smart enough to know that I really couldn’t loosen my purse strings there would be no point in asking me, however the friend wanted to check if my ‘Good Samaritan’ could help. This pushed me even in a graver dilemma. Here it was not me being asked from (where again saying No would not have been an easier task) but I had to do the asking for the friend from another friend. I was the chosen mediator. Could they both not do the talking on their own (since they also happen to know each other?) Would it be a source of embarrassment for both the parties and hence they included me? I never asked my friend.

But this was a sticky situation to be in. I was neither the borrower nor the lender and they both happened to be my good friends. How could I advocate on behalf of one and not the other? Yes, the borrower is always the vulnerable party but being a lender, even a friendly one, is not easy too.

I tried my ‘be cool’ policy, and casually talked of this ‘urgent’ business with my Good Samaritan- the lender friend. The lender-friend chose to be ‘quiet’ and that’s what I replied to my borrower-friend.

If only he had said a direct No,, I would have felt better, my friend said, rather than choosing to be quiet. Perhaps choosing to be quiet was the best option, implying a No anyway, for my lender-friend. I do not see them in the same old terms again despite my borrower-friend making it clear that a yes or a no would have no impact on their friendship. I see another friendship, not a great one though, being crossed out. No group Whatsapp forward messages being exchanged in future.

But then, I wonder if you are in dire need of just anything, including money, wouldn’t you anyway seek help from your friends (after having asked family members or perhaps even before them)? My friend did end up taking help from a bank but then banks are never your first options with a huge interest rate, are they?

Dilemma, eh?