short fiction

Might the enemy across the border (or in the country) be a friend? Five tales by Asghar Wajahat

Translated from the Hindi by Rakhshanda Jalil, these stories confront a crucial question for India today.

~ 1 ~

“Are you my enemy?”

“Of course not!”

“Not even 1%?”

“No, no, not even 1%.”

“And were you, earlier?”

“No, no.”

“Will you be, ever?”

“No, never.”

“On whom will you swear and say so?”

“On whomsoever you want.”

“All right, so you are with us.”

“Yes, I am with you.”

“Are you with us all the way?”

“Yes, I am with you all the way.”

“Do you agree with our views?”

“Yes, I agree with your views.”

“Do you agree with all our views?”

“Yes, I agree with all your views.”

“Do you agree with everything we have done so far?”

“Yes, I agree with all that you have done so far.”

“Will you agree with all that we will do?”

“Yes, I will agree with all that you will do.”

“Will you agree with all that we don’t do?”

“Yes, I will agree with all that you will not do.”

“No, you will not agree with that.”

“How can you say that?”

“We can say whatever we want...you are not in agreement with us.”

“No, no, how can that be; of course I agree with you.”

“So you are not agreeing with what I am saying?”

“But what are you saying?”

“Just this... that you are not agreeing with me!”

“Yes, yes, I don’t agree with you...you are right.”

“You are our enemy.”

“Yes, I am your enemy.”

“You are our sworn enemy.”

“Yes, I am your sworn enemy.”

“It is because of you that the country is facing all its difficulties.”

“Yes, it is because of us that the country is facing all its difficulties.”

“If it weren’t for you all these difficulties would go away.”

“Yes, if it weren’t for us all these difficulties would go away.”

“But you will have to stay.”

“What are you saying... we will have to stay?”

“Yes, you will have to stay.”

“But I don’t understand.”

“You will have to stay.”

“All right, but... I don’t understand.”

“No, you won’t understand.. All you have to do is accept that you are our enemy and you must remain our enemy.”

“All right... but why?”

“Because if you don’t remain our enemy we won’t remain either.”

~ 2 ~

“Listen.”

“Tell me.”

“You must remain our enemy.”

“Why can’t I become your friend?”

“It’s easier to maintain the relationship of an enemy.”

“And the relationship of an enemy?”

“It is very difficult.”

“How?”

“It is easy to kill an enemy.”

“And a friend?”

“It is difficult to maintain friendship with a friend.”

~ 3 ~

“Listen.”

“Tell me.”

“You must remain our enemy.”

“Why?”

“So that you stay in fear?”

“What good will it do to stay in fear?”

“It will bring a lot of good.”

“Such as?”

“Shall I tell you the greatest good?”

“Yes, tell me.”

“The greatest good is that as long as we are fearful we won’t hold each other’s hands.”

~ 4 ~

“Listen.”

“Tell me.”

“You must remain our enemy.”

“Why?”

“It makes us angry.”

“What good does anger do?”

“Anger brings a lot of good.”

“What good does it bring?”

“Anger makes our hands and feet move, our food gets digested, our circulatory system works, and we forget everything else.”

~ 5 ~

“What you think about yourself is true?”

“Yes, it is true.”

“Who told you that what you think about yourself is true?”

“No one.”

‘Then it is untrue.”

“Why?’

“Because you don’t know this about yourself that what you think is true or false?”

“Then who knows the truth about us?”

“We do...And so whatever you say about yourself is not true.”

“Then what is the truth about us?”

“What we say about you.”

Read more of Asghar Wajahat’s stories here. 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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