Ideology never proved to be a barrier in our friendship. We were three old friends and though we sparred once in a while, there were never any serious trouble. While ‘M’ was a staunch Marxist, ‘R’ was an avid follower of Ayn Rand, and I was a staunch Gandhian.
My Marxist friend was a voracious reader. His knowledge of history and philosophy never failed to amaze me and ‘R’ and ‘M’s’ interest in fiction was much beyond the regular ones. Russian author Anton Chekhov was his favourite, so was Salman Rushdie and Rohinton Mistry. Poets Faiz and Sahir Ludhianvi also attracted him. ‘M’ was a poet too and not too bad at that.
I remember that evening vividly when a regular discussion led to major fireworks. We were discussing Marx and my friend was giving me an absorbing discourse on the ideology. He could have carried on for a while but ‘R’ interrupted him. “Marxism is no cure and Communism creates a totalitarian State. Only the gospel of Rand will lead us to salvation,” he said. The Marxist replied in stronger words and much to my chagrin the debate took an ugly turn.
I tried my best to convince them that both Marx and Rand had talked about liberating man, but in their own ways. I added: “The Mahatma’s ideology of non-violence is perhaps the only way to achieve it, provided we show the courage to remain undeterred from the path shown by the apostle of peace”. As the decibels rose, the restaurant owner gently encouraged us to head home. Quickly heeding to his advice, the Marxist bid us goodbye to catch the last train home. The other friend too left in a hurry.
And, I was left to pick up the restaurant tab . The price of Gandhigiri, you see!