The proverb stands as a touchstone of true friendship.
It states that only that person who helps us when we are in need or difficulty is a true friend.
In our daily life we come across people who over a period of time become close to us. But we cannot be sure if they are true friends or just fair-weather friends. Many people develop contacts with influential people for their benefit. It will be a great mistake if one considers these apparently close people as friends. The test of true friendship is in time of difficulties.On the other hand, the fair-weather friends disappear in times of trails. They find excuses to distance themselves from us.
But a true friend will always stick to a person when if that person is in deep trouble. He will be concerned about the welfare of a person when he considers as a friend. If need be, he will make every effort to help his friend overcome the difficult situation, instead of running away from him. As the saying goes, ‘prosperity makes friends and adversity tries them’.
Take for example the friendship of Antonio and Bassanio in the Shakespearean play ‘The Merchant of Venice’. Antonio helps Bassanio even at the cost of losing his life- a pound of flesh.
The Epics of India showcase timeless illustrations of true friendship. In the Ramayana, it is between Rama and Sugreva. In the Mahabharata, it is between Krishna and Kuchela; between Duryodhana and Karna. Such friendship stands the test of time. Such friends are life’s greatest blessing. Friendship with people like these last a lifetime.
Thus the proverb not only shows the nature of a true friend but also offers a method of choosing good friends. It also cautions us of ‘fair-weather’ friends.