We Ain’t Bros

I recently came across a video titled Girls can be Bros too. For some reason, it irritated me. The video had beautiful pictures, an evocative background score and the best part- the syntax which went like this: IF being <good adjective> and <positive attribute> means being a bro, then your girlfriend is a bro too.

But, while I applauded the intelligent use of the conditional clause, I still felt a smidgen of irritation at the end of it all. Why?

Because see, I know girlfriends can be loyal and dependable and committed to having fun; and they will carry you home when you’re drunk; put you to bed, even take off your shoes before placing a thoughtful bucket by your lolling head. I have girlfriends like that. I have a girl group like that, or is the word in vogue “squad” nowadays, who will always have my back. But, for all of that, I’ve never felt the need to validate our friendship by calling them my “bros”.

Bro kinship is inherently a male domain. Something that guys have used to qualify their friendships since times of clandestine brotherhoods. It speaks of an easy alliance that doesn’t require too much effort to maintain; a safe zone for insults to be hurled at each other without unnecessary feelings getting in the way; a relationship where possessions are shared without fanfare and evenings are spent in gaiety. Bros are people that you can call up once in 6 months and they’ll still pick you up from the airport. They are also people who remind you that the world is full of shit and the best way to deal with it is to keep it simple. It’s a beautiful friendship to have in your life. But, it’s not the only way to have friendship in your life.

I have friends (mostly guys) with whom I have this equation. But, my friendship with my girlfriends is a little different.

With my girls, as much of a luxury as it seems to be able to call only once in 6 months, it doesn’t work that way. Our friendship takes a constant effort to maintain. It’s frail enough that if you’re not keeping in touch, you might lose the connection. It’s delicate enough to think before I say something mean. And it’s precious enough that I don’t even consider these things an effort.

These girls are my bastions of support and my relationship with them takes nurturing. Should that deter me? Should that make me go in search of a bro-ship? I think not. Because I need someone to call when I’m feeling down for no particular reason and I like having someone who thinks of calling me when they’re feeling down for no particular reason.

I’ve been a tomboy for most of my life. I’ve grown up with guy friends in spite of graduating from a girls’ school. Then, I went to college where 105 boys were balanced by 25 girls. It’s like the odds were never in the favour of my worried mother’s peace of mind. But then, much to her surprise, the first friend I told her about turned out to be a girl and she turned out to be my best friend in the 8 years since.

She was instrumental in the formation of the close-knit group that we have now and she was instrumental for my inclusion in it. While she educated me, through many trials and errors, in the ways of friendships where fights are fought and made up over a week, where you can insult each other but some lines can never be crossed, where nothing is limitless or without boundaries- except the ability to forgive (and no, we don’t forget), I discovered that I grew more comfortable with every disagreement, with every argument and with every surprise birthday party that was planned down to excruciating detail (including finding the least stinky corner of the bathroom to hide in).  I also discovered, while cocooned by these tumultuous relationships, that I don’t need to be a boy to be equal to boys. I learnt to be happy with myself when I learnt that equality doesn’t mean similarity. I can safely say that I grew into a woman because my friends weren’t my “bros”, rather they took on the roles of sister, brother, mother and father and even wizened grandparents at different times and different occasions.

We graduated from college a few years ago and went our own ways. But, in a world where emotions are seen as a weakness and where women are put under the microscope and watched for that one tiny step out of line, our friendship gives us the space to wear our hearts on the sleeve; it gives us people of whom we can make demands; it gives a safe zone where we can get hurt, get frustrated, get bloody effing pissed off and learn to deal with it. That’s what I want my girls around for.

So, yes. I’ll never call my girlfriends my bros. Even when we are all plastered and hurling abuses at each other while rolling on the floor laughing; even when we’re sitting around during our long-awaited holiday trip each one doing her own thing; even when one of us is getting married and we throw the best bachelorette party ever, I don’t need to validate us by calling them my “bros”. I’d rather call them my bitches.




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