The Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend

An ‘enemy’, according to the lexicon, is “a person who hates or dislikes another person”. A ‘friend’, according to the same lexicon, is “a person who shares the same feelings of natural liking and understanding, the same interests, etc., but is not closely related.” And these meanings, viewed in perspective of the topic, might mean a lot, or, might mean nothing at all. Common enemies of a person often join hands to bring down the empire of that ‘mutual’ enemy, and what follows is bitter enmity, once more. And this has been the technique in hot demand from times forgotten.

Even a cursory glimpse into ‘The Ramayana’ brings to light the episode of Bibhishana, Ravana’s brother, who joined hands with Rama in order to topple his brother. It is often said that Bibhisana fought for good, but it is a well-known fact that he coveted Ravana’s wife. Another similar story that comes to mind is that of the fight between Bali and Sugreeva, where Sugreeva joined hands with Rama to kill Bali, the strong ape, who had even defeated Ravana in combat.

A pact is what is required, and then one could make merry. No big troublesome ventures to be taken alone, and you even get a partner in case they recruit you to play the part of a gaolbird! Leaders of a magnificent stature have done it through the ages, and elevated this policy of alliance to an art worth imitating.

When Hitler invited Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose to tea, and showed him a submarine with superb prospects, our leader was more than elated. And who would not love to meet the ‘fuehrer’ then, or spend some time with him. But what bubbles up into our mind is that we do not know German- even a bit of it.

The English invaded our country, ruled us for so many days, and imbibed the English language into our vocabulary. But wasn’t cultivating hatred for the English a part of the popular culture then? Why couldn’t we brush off English from our minds, and adopt any other South-East Asian language as the medium of expression for the cultivated and erudite lot?

Here’s the catch. Although these Asian countries did help us in our freedom struggle, India’s bond with them sprang up from the mutual hatred shared against the British. As soon as the objective was achieved, each party selected its old path, and harmony was restored once more. But what happens does happen for good, or so it seems. Had these pacts been of a real long-term duration, we would have had to learn Japanese, with the 3500+ characters in the Japanese alphabet! It must have been a tough option to swallow that much, even on an empty stomach!

Politics breeds strange bedfellows, and it is here that the old wine is continually served in old bottles. Everyday we hear of such pacts being signed over a round table or glasses of wine, and intellectuals laugh on the other side of their cheeks.

They definitely take America’s attack on Iraq, and the subsequent support meted out to both these countries by other nations to be another of these slapstick comedies arising out of mutual love and mutual hatred. “ Nothing official about it”, a commercial says, but offices of diplomats are ripped apart in the futile strife for discovering the cause of such unforeseen pacts that rocked the cradle of the minister in question.

Bollywood seems to bank upon this scheme of enmity and friendship a lot, and most directors claim that their storylines are based on real-life experiences (and vice versa!). Villainous men with heinous motives join forces against the ‘good’ hero, but the uniqueness lies in the fact that the protagonist often claims an upper hand on the matter by the end. Here is a piece of advice for would be directors- stop beating the trodden paths; no use getting so many people together when the hero must win. Try something different, say, introduce some more item numbers, which seems to be the formula ‘sui generis’ with directors now.

The history of conflict has always been an entertaining one, and the forces of oppression that bring about subjugation of the weaker ‘minorities’ in one country often result in armed revolt in the other. Causes that ‘deliver’ harmony could also predict ‘abortion’ of an existing friendship.

Lost in the quagmire of daily duties, one often fails to recognize a friend or an enemy. The ultimate analysis of the problem in question leads us back to the four walls of an home, where charity is said to begin, reveals a complex father-mother-child relationship, and that explains almost everything. Joining hands in order to fulfill an ulterior motive is normal, or natural, to be precise. No use questioning values when they mean no more than a late-night party or an hour of extramarital flirtations. Facts, accepted as they are, disguise truth with a veneer of surrealistic explanations, and definitely regurgitate storylines for future fairy tales.


More by :  Aritra Bhattacharya

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