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Chapter 19: Hell Hath No Fury like a Christian Scorned

I have told you that a goldsmith used to live in front of my house. He was a little eccentric - that is far better than being retarded - and an absolutely harmless person. But he used to get into fights with his wife once in a while. That too is common.nothing abnormal about it. What was abnormal and eccentric was that they would fight right in the shop with the doors open, and a crowd would gather there.

And their fighting was not just verbal, it was physical. He would hit the wife and the wife would hit him, because she had learned that there was no other way with this man: unless you hit him hard he was not going to stop. He would catch hold of her hair, and she would catch hold of his hair, and they would be standing there, with a crowd of hundreds of people gathered around. And what I used to do was phone the police, because the police station was not far away.

I would simply phone from my house saying, “A great drama is happening here. There are hundreds of people, and if this thing goes any further there may be a murder or something. Come immediately.” They were not far away, just one furlong from my house. So the inspector and the police constables would come running. And when they came, they would catch hold of these people holding each other’s hair and hitting each other.

Immediately the goldsmith would start smiling and say, “There is no problem - we were just having a conversation.” That was the only eccentric point worth listening to again and again: “We were just having a conversation, just a family conversation. There is no problem.”

He would immediately be angry with the people who were standing outside: “What are you fools doing here? Don’t you have wives? Don’t you have family conversations? It was simply a dialogue that became a little physical, that’s all.” And he would tell the inspector, “you need not be worried - and I know who has phoned you because it happens again and again.”

The inspector would say, “Who phoned is not important; what is important is that you are making a public spectacle. If it is a family dialogue at least you can close your doors and have the dialogue - and as physically as you want. It is your wife and you are her husband. She does not seem to be afraid of you at all, she hits you far better than you hit her, so we are not worried about her, that you can do any harm to her. But by collecting a whole crowd it becomes a public affair; then we have to interfere. Next time we find you in this public family conversation, I am going to put both of you behind bars.”

Once when they had gone and the crowd had left I asked, “Goldsmithji, everything was perfectly good, just.. You call it a dialogue? Have you heard the name of Martin Buber?”

He said, “no.”

I said, “You should read Martin Buber - or it would be better if Martin Buber comes and studies you, because he is continually after dialogues. His whole life’s work is to convince people that they should have dialogue. He may not have even thought that the dialogue can be physical. You are very existential. He thought only of verbal dialogue, but you are realistic, pragmatic, practical.”

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