The best selling My Brilliant Friend has made even the most misogynist male aware of the subtlety and complexity of long lasting female friendships. Closer to home this emotional bond is one of which I am well aware. In the Rose Garden home stay in the Kerala hill station Munnar we shared briefly with Gloria and Christine.
Both in their early sixties they had met forty years earlier on an Israeli kibbutz. Ah bliss it was when the idealistic of the world worked for Israel rather than protested against it. Gloria a colourful forceful Bolivian who once worked as a psychotherapist in Holloway Prison,she loved Islington but now was back in La Paz working as a jewellery designer. Her husband is the Economist’s man in Bolivia. Christine tidy and Swedish was a vet in the rural south of her country. Her husband was an avid bird watcher-hence the separate holidays.
Time, distance and husbands had not withered their relationship. They were on the last leg of a three week whistle stop of all major tourist sites in North AND South India. They were travelling so fast their feet were barely touching the ground.
I asked did the husbands get on. “We think they do, we haven’t seen any arguments”said Christine. At which Gloria returned her friend’s smile.
Their relationship like many other long standing female affairs involved a louder less organised and a quieter one who tries to keep the show on the road. As Budda says, A life without friendship is like a death without witness. But are they two sisters or mother and daughter? The imbalance suggests mother and daughter with the quieter partner being the sensible mother trying to keep her wild daughter out of too much trouble and picking up when necessary, the pieces. I know of several similar affairs.