My best friend, my worst nemesis

There is an Amharic saying which roughly says, “Don’t migrate with a childhood friend.” Why? Well the guy knows all your secrets! You know, those secrets you want absolutely no one to know, and even try to forget them. Many of us have such secrets which if they see the light of the day they take down our names down the steep slopes and climbing again needs nothing short of a miracle. When the bonds that tied you with a childhood friend grow weaker the final call comes with a bang. It is not that sort of breakup which developed over months and one fine morning you decide, “It’s over!” Somehow fallouts with childhood friends are so sudden, final and so acrimonious you wonder “Are some dark forces we haven’t yet thought of in play here?” You have the best of chums for forty plus years and the breakup process might not take even four hours.

Childhood chums don’t just break up and go their own ways. They turn against each other. That’s when your secrets begin to be public knowledge. The “Ohs!” the “You must be kidding!” shocks, the “I always knew that guy didn’t like me;” cheap jabs become the order of the day and my family.” And the moment you two have some sort of fallout be sure that you have no secrets.

Say there is this humble fellow you know. So humble that you wish you had a little bit of the rock-solid integrity you think he is blessed with. And his childhood chum happens to be your friend too!

“You know, your friend could be a model husband.”

“Which friend are you talking about?”

“That childhood friends working at the bank…”

“What did you just say? Did I really hear you saying he could be the model husband?”

What’s all the playacting about! He knows exactly what you were saying.

“I said that. At least we’ve never heard anything negative about him to think otherwise.”

“I’ll tell you why you never heard anything negative about him. You never heard because I didn’t want to tell his secrets to anyone. Only he and me and of course his mistresses know his secrets. Why, he has more mistresses than you’ve friends.”

“Sorry, are you saying that he is…”

“Am saying that he is unfaithful in his marriage; that he‘s betraying that wonderful wife of his; that he’s buying all sorts of things to his mistresses while his family titters on the brink of starvation? Yes, I’m saying all that.”

“Sorry, but are we talking about the same person here? Maybe you’ve mistaken someone for him.”

“Cut the crap! Look, in fact he has even introduced me to a few of his mistresses. To tell you the truth he isn’t only unfaithful. I suspect that he has a couple of kids from other women. Hey, why are you so shocked? Did I say anything about Armageddon or some prediction warning us to brace up for Judgment Day which is only about nine or ten days ahead?”

“The things you said aren’t things we usually say about your best friends?”

“He’s not my best friend. He has never been my best friend!” The fallout between the two must be real serious.

It hurts. I mean when the secret-spiller is a dear friend it really hurts. ‘How can he do this to me?’ ‘How can someone I believed with my life do such a thing against me?’

‘I’m not an angel or anything like that. Yes, now and then I slip onto the wrong beds. But not always! Some married, some not yet, and some even widows. So what! After all I’m human! I make mistakes. Why is it such a big deal on me when almost everyone is doing just that! I can name names if you want?

‘I sympathize with my unsuspecting wife. I mean she is one lady so delicate and so innocent she shouldn’t have been sent to earth. But then nothing can bleed you inside out that all these stories spread by best friend

‘Oh my! Oh my! Yes, I bought a car, a pretty one too. So what! What’s the big deal! Since when did buying a car become a crime? I beg you pardon; did I say that? Did I really say I’m finding it hard to make ends meet? Ok, though I don’t recall, let’s say those words came out of my mouth. Everybody is in the financial doldrums these days. So don’t you try to make some breaking news out of it! Ha! I knew you were aiming for that. I knew it was a matter of time before this money-talk comes. You are asking me where I got the money from. I’ll give you an honest answer; it is none of yours or anybody’s business!’

“Ok I heard you loud and clear. But would answer me one simple question?”


“What happened between you two?”

“Between whom two?” That’s his way of belittling a friend for whom he once upon a time had the utmost admiration. In fact, his admiration was so extensive he failed to get throne high enough to put the guy into.

“It is God’s blessing that I have him for a friend. He would do anything and everything for me; I only need to say so. You wouldn’t know what a friend really means until you meet someone like him.”

Yes, it hurts real bad. The “Oh I don’t mind one little bit!’ sort of response would be fooling oneself.

The one-time childhood chum is trying to cut the ground from under your feet! What are those niceties for? Someone should tell him right in his face, ‘You’re the worst gossipmonger on planet Earth and they should have locked you up in some inaccessible cave or something.

By the way now that the social media seems to have made gossip mainstream don’t you feel it has spilled over into our daily lives! You might not hear things like…

“Why do you listen to gossip? As far as I know, you weren’t such a person! What happened?”

“Fashion! Fashion is what happened.”

“Be serious.”

“I’m being serious! Can’t be more serious than I am now! Just to fill you in gossip has become fashionable. It is the fashion of the day. You better get into the game while there still is time. Or else you’ll be left in an empty train station waiting for a train which will never arrive.”

The Ethiopian herald August 1/2021

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