Maneck attended a few rallies and protests, only in order to support his friend. After a while, even that wasn’t a sufficient reason. The process was so tediously repetitious, he stopped going.
Avinish did not have time for chess in the evenings anymore. They still ate together but were seldom alone, and Maneck resented it. A crowd hung around his friend, discussing and arguing about things he did not understand and was not interested in understanding. Their talk was filled with words like democratization, constitution, alienation, degeneration, decentralization, collectivization, nationalism, capitalism, materialism, feudalism, imperialism, communalism, socialism, fascism, relativism, determinism, proletarianism—ism, ism, ism, ism, the words flying around like buzzing insects.
Why couldn’t these fellows talk more normally? wondered Maneck. To amuse himself he began counting their various isms, and stopped when he reached twenty. Sometimes, dogs came into their debates—imperialist dogs, running dogs of capitalism. Sometimes the dogs were pigs, capitalist pigs. Money-lending hyenas and landowning jackals also put in occasional appearances. And lately, besides the isms, there was this Emergency that they kept going on about, behaving as if the sky had fallen.