In June, we celebrated International Friendship Day. Of course, friendship unites people not on this day alone, but often for many years. Without friendship, as without love, our lives are incomplete. This story is about Belarusians and their views on friendship.
“IF MY FRIEND
I DON’T ASK QUESTIONS”
Sergei Ivanovsky, Andrei Tsyganov, Alexander Zuyev, head of construction technology agency ZAO Atlant.
The friends have known each other for more than forty years, ever since they were enrolled in the same kindergarten in the Kurasovschina subdivision of Minsk. They share childhood adventures that have turned into legends: how they played hooky together, ran away from their babysitters, visited each other’s grandmothers.
These stories have been so often told and embellished that the friends themselves no longer know where reality stops and fiction begins.
They say they get together often, considering their age. There are always occasions, like birthdays, amateur hockey league championships, etc. They have their own traditions: On Christmas and on big family holidays, they meet at Alexander’s house; to watch sporting events they go to Sergei’s.
“I never really thought about friendship, about what it means,” says Andrei. “But if Sergei or Sasha needs anything, I am not going to ask why. I will just try always to be where they need me to be, and when.” Sometimes the friends need help with serious problems, while at other times there are funny situations. “Once Adidas held a streetball
competition and I was participating,” says Sergei. “We were short one player and I called Sasha up in the morning and said ‘we meet in two hours, in good sporting form.’ I told him where to go. Sasha said ‘fine.’ When he showed up all sleepy and confused, he asked ‘but why did you need my uniform?’”
“FINDING A TRUE FRIEND IS LIKE FINDING A TRUE LOVE”
Meet Julia Bortnik, editor for an Internet magazine, and Natalia Rudakovskaya, who founded a PR-agency. They met on the first day of elementary school and shared a bunk bed on the school campus.
“It was friendship at first sight: Natasha came to class in tears, because she had forgotten her modeling clay. I felt so sorry for her that I’ve been trying to comfort her
for sixteen years,” jokes Julia. They do not see each other so often now because of work, but they call each other all the time and get together at least once a week.
“Finding a true friend is as important and as difficult as finding a true love,” says Natasha. “Friendship is another form of love. We can’t force someone to be friends with us; we need to have chemistry, compatibility and mutual interests to be real friends.”
“WE ARE CONNECTED BY ALMOST EVERYTHING IN OUR LIVES”
Aleksei Kamushenko is a video operator, and Sergei Khamtsov, an IT specialist.
Aleksey and Sergey have known each other for 21 years, ever since the ninth grade, and became friends in the last year of high school when they started attending the dance club. Recently they have been seeing each other quite often. Aleksei has filmed all significant events in Sergei’s life; for example, he recorded his son’s participation in a competition. “It made the child happy and gave us something to remember,” smiles Aleksei. “We finished the day with shashlik and weight-lifting at Sergei’s.” «We are connected by almost everything in our lives,” confirms Sergei. “A friend is when you know you can call someone if you have a question, a problem, or, on the other hand, some joy that you want to share. You know he will answer, and you can always count on him.”
“FRIENDSHIP IS WHEN YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO BE SILENT ABOUT”
Here are Aleksei Matyush, a freelancer, and Yuri Chaikov, an ecology expert for commercial projects.
Aleksei and Yuri have been friends for twelve years. They say they may not meet for a week or even a month, but they always call each other to share news, problems, or to boast about their latest successes.
«When Yuri had a dog, I would come and walk it, and he did the same for me when I was out of town,” says Aleksei. “Friendship involves mutual assistance and understanding, common interests.”
“Friendship is when it is easy to talk to each other, but also when you don’t need words,” says Yuri. “Friendship is when you have something to be silent about.”
“THERE HAS TO BE SOMEONE WHO WILL LISTEN TO YOU WHENEVER A GIRL BREAKS UP WITH YOU, RIGHT?”
Meet Vladimir Yushin, a systems administrator at Beltelecom, and Irina Sharko, a computer graphic designer.
Vladimir and Irina have been friends for 11 years. They met in elementary school in the Belarusian city of Zaslavl where they shared a desk in class.
“We sat together until Vladimir went to college,” recalls Irina. “We drove the teachers crazy because we were always
talking and misbehaving.” According to Irina, they have similar personalities and common interests, such as computer games and bike riding. They communicate through social media and meet once a week.
Vladimir defines a friend as someone who can share any emotion or suffering.
“There has to be someone who will listen to you when a girl breaks up with you, right?”
Irina agrees: “A friend is someone you can call on anytime, day or night, to whom you can say anything. Your friend will tell you what needs to be done, what kind of help you need. A friend is someone who supports you.”
“A FRIEND IS CONSTANT SUPPORT AND A SHOULDER TO LEAN ON”
Olga Zuyeva is a psychologist in a community center, Natalya Avdei is a Russian language and literature teacher, Elena Rikhtovitch is an accountant for the Belarus Post Office, and Natalia Mikhalyukovitch is a chief accountant.
The four became friends thirty-six years ago, in kindergarten, and continued through high school. They were in the same class from the beginning, and now they are more than friends. They are like family and are godmothers to each other’s children.
“I think friendship is when you are ready to help each other at any time, day or night. Always,” says Natalya.
Olga adds, «A friend is constant support
and a shoulder to lean on in our case our female friendship is very strong. »
“I APPRECIATE CANDOR IN A FRIEND, SOMEONE WHO CAN TELL IT LIKE IT IS”
Meet Aleksei Volchek, a security system salesman, and Aleksei Savastyuk, a warehouse manager.
These young men have been friends for 18 years. They first met while playing soccer in the courtyard. They meet once or twice a week.
“I appreciate his candor, he always tells it like it is,” says Aleksei V. “He always helps me out.”
“Sometimes, when something good happens to you, you try to keep quiet about it so you don’t make others jealous,” says Aleksei S. “It’s not like that with Aleksei. I can tell him anything, good or bad without fear. He’ll can give me a shoulder to cry on or be sincerely happy forme.”
There is nothing particularly extraordinary in these mini-interviews. They show ordinary people and ordinary lives, lit up by friendship. These stories may be told in any country, not only in Belarus but in America as well. It is the universal strength of friendship that unites us in our world and helps us understand the value of human life.
Photos: Dmitry Brushko Credits: TUT.BY