I happened to meet this rather famous Trade Union leader in a restaurant. The fellow had disappeared from the social and political circuit in the most intriguing manner.
Since he had always been on quite friendly terms with me I thought that this was an opportunity to ask him what all had happened.
He didn't disappoint me as he plunged right into the story of his disillusionment which I am reproducing here.
"I brought this Rights' Activist to our factory to lecture the workers about freedom and equality and all that stuff. Since he didn't have any place to go to it seemed the most natural of things that I invite him to spend the night at my place.
"Back home I met with quite a bit of resistance. My wife took me aside and in an embarrassingly loud whisper scolded me for bringing a stranger to my home! My son and daughter, both rolled their eyes and made wry faces, and it was by a combination of rather frantic cajoling and graphic threats that I convinced them to be civil to my guest.
"When we got up in the morning, the Rights' Activist complained that he was not feeling well. I urged him to take a rest for the day at my place and left for my workplace. As things turned out, there was quite a bit of crisis at the workplace. The workers 'inspired' by the Rights' Activist's speech the prior day, had decided to go for a demonstration against their 'exploiters', though they couldn't seem to decide who that was! There was a clash between two groups of workers and at the end of the day half the factory was burnt down, a dozen of the workers were in the hospital and a score or so in the jail.
"I returned home quite late. The Rights' Activist didn't seem to be around. My wife looked quite cheerful and had even changed her hair-do. I asked her about my guest. 'Oh, he left in the evening. You kept him waiting for so long,' she said in an accusing tone. 'He was quite a nice guy really!' she added.
"She seemed to be in high spirits and kept talking and humming and fooling about with a mirror and when it seemed like she had completely forgotten about my usual welcome-home cup of tea, I gently tried to point out the lapse to her. 'Oh, that! Why don't you prepare a cup for yourself and for me as well, while you are at it,' she said somewhat archly. I was taken aback by her response as well as her tone and for a moment just stood there, looking at her unbelievingly. This really annoyed her and she lashed out at me, 'Why are you looking at me in this stupid manner! I have my rights, you know. You have been treating me like a slave all my life but I am not having any more of it. From today you are going to do your bit about the house and you might as well start compensating for all the past years!' I realized that my guest must have been talking to her. There did not seem to be any point in prolonging the discussion and so I quietly went to the kitchen…
"I wish I had maintained a similar cool in the days to come," the Trade Union leader paused and then continued with a sigh, "You see a couple of days later, I got rather irritated by my wife's continuous harping about her rights and spurred on by some 'ill-advice' by my friends, I decided to 'crack the whip'. My wife threw me out of the house, which was 'rightfully' hers, as I had put it in her name to evade the taxes! Anyway, this all came much later. There's a lot that happened before this…
"My daughter who had been missing the whole day called late in the night and informed that she had taken off with the Rights' Activist as she wanted to 'see' a bit of the world. When I tried to threaten her in the usual parental fashion, she reminded me that she was an adult and that she had her 'rights' …and that I should be careful about threatening her because she could always drag me to the courts!
"I kept wondering whether the Human Rights' chap had been talking to my son as well. Lately he seemed to be brooding more than was usual even for him. I could feel that he was preoccupied with something. I wished he would come out with whatever was brewing in his mind because I could not bear any more stress what with all this sudden 'emancipation' of my household!
"A couple of days later, he accosted me and with a defensive scowl on his face, said, 'I have got my rights, you know!' I wearily assured him that I knew and that he should come out with whatever was on his mind. 'I am going for marriage,' he said. I almost shouted out my relief! This seemed to be the only reasonable thing that had happened lately. 'Is it someone I know?' I asked, in my most friendly tone. He nodded and mentioned a family in the neighbourhood. Now this was a nice enough family and they had this pretty daughter though I didn't like her rude beef-hunk of a brother. I proudly thumped my son's back and said, 'I am glad that you are marrying Mr. ___'s daughter!'"
The Trade Union leader sighed and then continued, "Can you guess what my son said? He just snorted contemptuously and said, 'Pops, you've got it all wrong! I am going to marry his son!'"
(Truth is mostly unpalatable…but truth cannot be ignored! Here we serve the truth, seasoned with salt and pepper and a dash of sauce (iness!). You can record your burps, belches and indigestion, if any, at firstname.lastname@example.org)