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.”


“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.”


“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?”


“Did he have a witness?”


“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.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Do you really need to use that plastic straw?

The hazards of single-use plastic items, and what to use instead.

In June 2018, a distressed whale in Thailand made headlines around the world. After an autopsy it’s cause of death was determined to be more than 80 plastic bags it had ingested. The pictures caused great concern and brought into focus the urgency of the fight against single-use plastic. This term refers to use-and-throw plastic products that are designed for one-time use, such as takeaway spoons and forks, polythene bags styrofoam cups etc. In its report on single-use plastics, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has described how single-use plastics have a far-reaching impact in the environment.

Dense quantity of plastic litter means sights such as the distressed whale in Thailand aren’t uncommon. Plastic products have been found in the airways and stomachs of hundreds of marine and land species. Plastic bags, especially, confuse turtles who mistake them for jellyfish - their food. They can even exacerbate health crises, such as a malarial outbreak, by clogging sewers and creating ideal conditions for vector-borne diseases to thrive. In 1988, poor drainage made worse by plastic clogging contributed to the devastating Bangladesh floods in which two-thirds of the country was submerged.

Plastic litter can, moreover, cause physiological harm. Burning plastic waste for cooking fuel and in open air pits releases harmful gases in the air, contributing to poor air quality especially in poorer countries where these practices are common. But plastic needn’t even be burned to cause physiological harm. The toxic chemical additives in the manufacturing process of plastics remain in animal tissue, which is then consumed by humans. These highly toxic and carcinogenic substances (benzene, styrene etc.) can cause damage to nervous systems, lungs and reproductive organs.

The European Commission recently released a list of top 10 single-use plastic items that it plans to ban in the near future. These items are ubiquitous as trash across the world’s beaches, even the pristine, seemingly untouched ones. Some of them, such as styrofoam cups, take up to a 1,000 years to photodegrade (the breakdown of substances by exposure to UV and infrared rays from sunlight), disintegrating into microplastics, another health hazard.

More than 60 countries have introduced levies and bans to discourage the use of single-use plastics. Morocco and Rwanda have emerged as inspiring success stories of such policies. Rwanda, in fact, is now among the cleanest countries on Earth. In India, Maharashtra became the 18th state to effect a ban on disposable plastic items in March 2018. Now India plans to replicate the decision on a national level, aiming to eliminate single-use plastics entirely by 2022. While government efforts are important to encourage industries to redesign their production methods, individuals too can take steps to minimise their consumption, and littering, of single-use plastics. Most of these actions are low on effort, but can cause a significant reduction in plastic waste in the environment, if the return of Olive Ridley turtles to a Mumbai beach are anything to go by.

To know more about the single-use plastics problem, visit Planet or Plastic portal, National Geographic’s multi-year effort to raise awareness about the global plastic trash crisis. From microplastics in cosmetics to haunting art on plastic pollution, Planet or Plastic is a comprehensive resource on the problem. You can take the pledge to reduce your use of single-use plastics, here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of National Geographic, and not by the Scroll editorial team.