Friendships and Journeys

Human connections is one of the core aspects of what made us truly human. Having a relationship with another person other than yourself is important for everyone. Out of all these relationships, bonds formed as friendship is arguably one of the most important. A “friend” is defined by one of the definitions in Merriam-Webster as: “a favored companion”. One of the keyword there is “favored”; a friend must be favored by us. It can be our parents, it can be our workmates, classmates or roommates. Your mom can be both your mother and your friend, not the other way around. So whether that person can be called your friend or not, it depends on your own judgment. You cannot choose your parents, but you can choose your friends (you can choose to categorize your parents as your friends or not as well). Another keyword in the definition is: “companion”; thinking of life as a journey overall, a friend is a person who accompanies us throughout our journey. So the theme of friendship translates really well when connected with journeys, our theme for this unit, as friendship is one of the travel-essentials while we embark on this journey called life.

–Alexandra Angela

Shamhat is considered Enkidu’s first friend when he first came to be. Shamhat, the temple prostitute, helped him to be more civilized and teaches him pleasure and how the civilized world works. "So she spoke to him and her words found favour, he knew by instinct, he should seek a friend." (Gilgamesh, Tablet I Line 213-214)
The main friendship in the Epic of Gilgamesh is between Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Enkidu was supposed to be Gilgamesh’s rival, but ended up being his most trustworthy companion. Rather than counteracting each other, they decided to create a positive reaction and double their power by forming a team / friendship. "Gilgamesh knelt, one foot on the ground, his anger subsided, he broke off from the fight." (Gilgamesh, Tablet II Line 229-230)
Enkidu’s role in Gilgamesh’s life is just like a right hand. Enkidu supports whatever Gilgamesh do, and helps him to achieve Gilgamesh’s goals, with no regards of his own desires. Showing true companionship. He helped Gilgamesh cut down the tree, defeat Humbaba and even kill the Bull of Heaven. "Had I caught you too, I'd treated you likewise, I'd draped your arms in its guts!" (Tablet VI Line 156-157, Enkidu to Ishtar to defend Gilgamesh)
"They kissed each other and formed a friendship." (Gilgamesh, Tablet II Line 18) Sometimes it’s hard for two men to be just friends without it being considered as a social deviation, or without them being labeled as a homosexual. Gilgamesh and Enkidu’s friendship does have some homo-erotic tendencies to them, but mostly their relationship is brotherly love. Gilgamesh loved Enkidu like a brother he never had, and Gilgamesh's mother even adopted Enkidu as an adopted son, which made Enkidu 'legally' Gilgamesh's brother.
Death of a friend can play an important part in someone's life. After the death of his friend, Gilgamesh was left in mourning, and in great sorrow. He also kept him for an unreasonable time. "For his friend Enkidu, Gilgamesh did bitterly weep as he wandered the wild." (Gilgamesh Tablet IX Line 1-2)
One of Marjane’s biggest friend, especially as a child, is God himself. Marjane has a special personal relationship with God, and God’s presence was very clear in Marjane’s life as a child. However, she abandoned God when she grew older. "Every night I had a big discussion with God." (Satrapi, pg 8)
Childhood friends are often forgotten, but sometimes they can also become the seed of a lifelong friendship. For Marjane, her childhood friends in Iran during revolutionary time is Kia and Kaveh. Often pure and honest, children fight and makeup on a day to day basis. This is a very simple and basic kind of friendship.
We cannot choose our parents, our family, but we can choose wether our parents is our friend or not. In the case of Marji, her parents can be considered as a friend to her (her grandmother also). She has a pretty close relationship with them, they love her unconditionally, and they always give her support for whatever she decides to do. Parents are often the figure that children look up to, and what shapes their worldview. In Persepolis, Marji can become the woman that she is because of her parents influence as well. "If hair is as stimulating as you say, then you need to shave your mustache!" (Marji's Dad to Her Teacher defending his daughter's education, Satrapi, pg 98)
"You are the little girl I always wanted to have." (Uncle Anoosh to Marji, Satrapi pg. 69) One of Marji’s best friend when she was a kid was her uncle, Anoosh. She admired him and look at him as a hero. He considers her as his own child. They shared a very intimate goodbye before Anoosh was executed. This also shows how the death of a friend, just like in Gilgamesh, can affect someone’s life.
"When I went back to her room she was crying. We were not in the same social class, but at least we were in the same bed." (Satrapi, pg 37) One of Marji’s friend as a young girl was her maid, Mehri, who she has a good relationship with. Sometimes a friendship with a person holding a lower status than us can be forbidden or frowned upon by the society.
Sometimes we can find friendship by similarities, or common problem. For example in Persepolis, one of the common problem at that time was the revolution happening at Iran. People with the same problem, or fighting for the same issues can form friendships. Also immigrants or war refugees can form friendship based on their common history.
"In short, we complemented each other." (Marji about Reza, Satrapi pg 279) Even though we can form friendship with people who share similar traits and background as us, sometimes the best friendship can also be formed from stark differences or contrasting personalities. In Persepolis, it is evident in Marji’s gang in Austria who is very different from each other but get along very well. It is also evident in Marji’s husband, Reza, who Marji described as polar opposites from her, but they got along well nonetheless (despite getting divorced in the future).
In the end, we can see that friends that we collected during our journey add up like puzzle pieces to each other. All of them help to complete the “story” or the “journey”. As we will continue collect and put together these seemingly unconnected puzzle pieces, we will find out the beautiful image at the end. In Marji’s life, she formed many friendships, with God, her parents, her childhood friends, and her adult friends. They all helped shaped who she was and how her life story turned out, they all help to complete her life puzzle.
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