Saturday, August 20, 2011


You will get one question which consists of only one word. It is an open-ended essay, and therefore it is up to you whether to write a narrative essay [telling a story] or a factual-based one. Here is an example of an essay written based on facts.

TITLE: Friends

It is said that "no man is an island". Personally, I think that the saying is absolutely true. From time immemorial, Man has craved for companionship from his fellow man. It is one of our basest instincts, one dating back to the dawn of mankind. The need for companionship has become ingrained in the human psyche. With the passing of the millennium. we have become so dependent on this companionship that we simply cannot survive without it. In the modern context, our friends provide us with the aforesaid companionship that we so crave.

What, we might ask, constitutes a true friend? The emphasis here is on the word "true". Is a true friend someone who you say "hello" to every morning? Or is it someone who does you favours when you need them? Or is there something more: a connection that is more profound? The answer to the latter is definitely "yes".

Friends, in the purest sense, are one's soulmates. It sounds cliched I know, but I truly believe that it is so. True friends understand each others' needs and emotions. This understanding leads to mutual respect for each other. I also believe that understanding is a prerequisite for all good friendship. It is the mutual respect that friends have with each other lead them to care for one another whilst respecting their respective personal space and privacy. That is why when I say "soulmates", I mean that friends have an instinctive understanding, an "emotional compass" if you will, of their friends' feelings.

In the same vein, friends are people with whom one can just be oneself. With friends, there is no need for false pretenses or facades. A true friend is someone who knows the worst about you and loves you just the same. As the saying goes, "love is blind, but friendship closes one eye". This simply means that although friends see our faults and shortcomings, they choose to look past them to see only our positive traits. Thus, it does not matter if you have a host of annoying habits, or are not good-looking, or even you are singularly untalented in everything you do. A true friend loves you simply for being yourself. Nothing more and nothing less.

Friends are people whom you can trust implicitly. Have you ever told someone your deepest, darkest secrets only to have them go out and tell others? it hurts, doesn't it? What is worse, your secrets come back to you through the grapevine. That, most emphatically, is not what true friendship is about. A true friends will always keep your secrets, no matter how juicy they are and no matter how much they want to share them with others. For that reason, we trust our friends enough to pour out our feelings and thoughts to them, all the while knowing that they are in safe hands.

Ever heard the expression "laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone"? It is sadly, very much a norm in today's hypocritical and callous society. But every cloud has a silver lining. In this case, the "silver lining" comes in the form of our friends. Friends are always there when we need them. Whether we need someone to celebrate with, or we need a shoulder to cry on, they are always available. When we are down in the dumps and are discouraged, they become our mainstays to help us to keep our heads above the proverbial water. In a way, friends are like our personal cheerleaders and also our personal critics if the need arises.

The singer and scriptwriter Woody Allen once wrote in his lyrics, "I get by with a little help from my friends". The way I see it, he sums things up beautifully. A life without friends would be a lonely and sad one to say the least. Friends are like a ray of sunlight in the gloom's of today fast-paced individualistic world. Consequently, we must treasure the friends we have, for true friendship is rare. What would life without friends be like? I, for one, would never like to find out.

[published for educational purpose, writer unknown]