National Offence

For the good of the nation: Ten short tales on patriotism by Asghar Wajahat

Translated from the Hindi by Rakhshanda Jalil, these stories are more apt for the times than ever before.

~ 1 ~

“I love my nation.”

“How much do you love your nation?”

“Very much.”

“How much?”

“Very, very much.”

“That’s very good. Now tell me: how do you love your nation?”

“What do you mean?

“Tell me the ways in which way you love it?”

“What do you mean?”

“Look, when a mother loves her child she kisses it, caresses it, and holds it close to her breast...How do you love your nation?”

“My love for my nation is greater than a mother’s love for her child.”

“But how do you do it?”

“I...that...I will tell you tomorrow.”

~ 2 ~

“I am a great patriot and nationalist.”

“That’s good, but what do you do out of your patriotism and nationalism?”

“Why? Does one have to do something for patriotism and nationalism?”

~ 3 ~

“Before independence, the nationalists used to demonstrate against the British. They would bear the brunt of staffs, sticks and bullets. They would go to jail. They would end up at the gallows.”

“And what are the present lot of nationalists doing?”

“They are taking the old nationalists off the gallows.”

“Why?”

“So they can be sent to the gallows once again.”

~ 4 ~

“Earlier, the nationalists used to tell the common people: ‘Give me blood; I will give you freedom.’

“Today’s nationalists say: ‘Give me votes; I will give you saris, laptops, bicycles, money...’”

~ 5 ~

“Say it loudly, say that you are a nationalist.”

I said it loudly: “I am a nationalist.”

“Say it very loudly, say that you are a nationalist.”

I said it even more loudly: “I am a nationalist.”

He said, “Scream out loud that you are a nationalist.”

I shouted...I shouted very, very loudly: “I am a nationalist.”

I shouted so loudly that I became hoarse.

He said, “No, you are not a nationalist.”

I asked, “But why?”

He said, “Because no one’s ears were split when you shouted you were a nationalist.”

~ 6 ~

“I love my nation very much.”

“Then you must be loving the people of your nation too.”

“No, I don’t love the people of my nation.”

“Why?”

“Because they don’t love their nation.”

“Who told you that they don’t love their nation?”

“I have told myself this...”

~ 7 ~

The greatest patriot in the nation got a machine created to measure patriotism. A man sits inside this machine and a needle begins to move. And you can tell how much a person loves his nation. You know in an instant how much one loves one’s country.

He would catch hold of all those people who loved their nation very much, put them inside his machine, test their nationalism and decide their fate accordingly.

One day, people sought a suitable occasion and caught hold of the greatest patriot in the nation, and made him sit inside the machine. When the person who claimed to love his nation the most sat in the machine, the needle refused to move. people were perplexed.

Suddenly, a voice could be heard from the machine: “Remove him from the machine; his nationalism cannot be measured.”

“Why?” the people asked.

The machine said, “He has got this machine built on the express condition that it never be used to measure his nationalism.”

~ 8 ~

“Judge sahab, today I killed a traitor in broad daylight. Thousands of people were watching. I killed him mercilessly.”

“Did you kill his lawyer too?”

“No”

“Did he have a witness?”

“No.”

“Any friends, neighbours, children, or relatives?”

“In that case you are free to go.”

“But when was I even arrested, m’lord?”

~ 9 ~

A patriot asked an adivasi, “Do you love your country?”

The adivasi was about to dig a well to drink some water. He had been thirsty for scores of years. He gave no answer about loving his country and kept digging the well.

The patriot asked him again, “Do you love your country?”

God knows how the adivasi’s shovel moved in a way that left no one to ask him whether he loved his country or not.

~ 10 ~

A patriot asked a dalit, “Do you love your country?”

The dalit said, “I can come inside the temple and answer your question.”

The patriot said, “I have got my answer. You don’t love your country.”

Asghar Wajahat is a Hindi fiction writer, dramatist, independent documentary filmmaker and scriptwriter. He is best known for his play Jis Lahore Nai Dekhya, O Jamyai Nai.

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