My patriotism, your patriotism

My patriotism sees dark days ahead, your patriotism thinks its time has finally arrived. For now, it looks like your patriotism is winning


Illustration: Jayachandran/Mint
Illustration: Jayachandran/Mint

My patriotism is a panorama shot, yours a selfie. My patriotism resides deep within the smells and tastes of the country in which I grew up, yours thrives on WhatsApp forwards and announces itself in “Proud Indian” Twitter bios. My patriotism is love, yours is love jihad, anti-Romeo. My patriotism raises questions, yours says shut down the Internet to stop dissent.

My patriotism distinguishes itself from nationalism, yours doesn’t know the difference. My patriotism doesn’t care to prove itself or to be measured, yours is the height of the biggest flagstaff.

My patriotism welcomes critiques and critics, yours seeks idolatry from every citizen. My patriotism petitions and protests, your patriotism prefers Internet trolls and income-tax officials.

My patriotism loves and offends equally. Yours picks favourites. My patriotism wants everyone to live in harmony, yours wants to send dissenters to Pakistan. Anyone who speaks against the establishment is declared #antinational. Your patriotism can make any hashtag trend, my patriotism is not that tech-savvy.

My patriotism is represented in pop culture by the idea of Amar Akbar Anthony and Veer-Zaara, yours has space only for one god. Mine brings together, yours cleaves.

My patriotism is Savitribai Phule, yours is Savarkar. My patriotism is fuelled by the power of feminine energy, yours feels the need to repeatedly assert its masculinity. You define masculinity as your ability to control me and my feminine energy. True masculinity would be at ease with my femininity, but you wouldn’t understand that.

My patriotism is rainbow-coloured, your patriotism is black and white. Your patriotism wants to paint everything saffron, my patriotism is happy with splashes of genda, jalebi and the flowing robes of yogis who have renounced materialism. Your yogis are all power-hungry and political.

My patriotism is often in resting mode, but yours has high blood pressure.

My patriotism is 100%, yours is all about the number zero. My patriotism craves peace, yours is eager to strike. My patriotism respects anyone who puts country before self. Your patriotism mocks me and says how can you care for an Indian soldier if you want peace and think it’s okay for Pakistani actor Fawad Khan to act in a Karan Johar film? Your patriotism is illogical.

Your patriotism wants me to leave India, my patriotism wants you to know I’m not going anywhere. Your patriotism is geography, my patriotism is the people who live within that geography.

My patriotism has always understood the value of paanch rupaiya, barah anna, yours is cashless and seriously infatuated with Paytm.

My patriotism embraces all living creatures, yours is bigoted even when it comes to animals. Only pure-bred desi cows allowed—Jerseys kindly excuse. My patriotism says junk food, who cares what people eat? Your patriotism gets murderous over the contents of a fridge.

My patriotism is comfortable with my sexuality, yours is perverted, always peeking into other people’s bedrooms. Your patriotism is predatory, but it gives regular sermons on family values.

My patriotism is best articulated among like-minded friends over some Old Monk. Your patriotism is loud, eager to stand on any pulpit and, I concede, has flashier oratorial skills.

My patriotism doesn’t understand why people should be defined by what they wear or who they marry. Yours has a strict code, and it’s one where jeans and interfaith love are definitely #antinational.

My patriotism has the ability to laugh at itself. Your patriotism never gets the joke, except if it’s making fun of a certain lost politician. It has mastered the art of taking offence and quivers in perpetual outrage.

Your patriotism thinks universities exist so young people can study physics, chemistry, biology and get degrees. My patriotism thinks they are temples of learning, safe havens where you can question anything or anyone.

My patriotism thrives on the unfettered voice of youth, your patriotism thinks they’re plotting a coup. Treachery, you yell. How dare they?

My patriotism is still seeking, yours claims to have all the answers. If my patriotism is a long-winded, sometimes difficult-to-decipher-in-one-reading essay, yours is a Twitter poll with only two answers: yes or Pakistan.

My patriotism doffs its hat to our rich and convoluted history, your patriotism wants to rewrite it.

My patriotism empathizes with speeches like the one former US president Barack Obama gave two years ago: “That’s what America is. Not stock photos or airbrushed history, or feeble attempts to define some of us as more American than others. We respect the past, but we don’t pine for the past. We don’t fear the future; we grab for it. America is not some fragile thing. We are large, in the words of (Walt) Whitman, containing multitudes. We are boisterous and diverse and full of energy, perpetually young in spirit.”

My patriotism agrees with Rabindranath Tagore’s “I will never allow patriotism to triumph over humanity as long as I live.”

Your patriotism thinks “humanity” is a concept that’s past its sell-by date. Your patriotism doesn’t like speeches, it prefers chants: Vande, Vande, Vande or Make America Great Again.

My patriotism is self-critical, it worries about all our gaping wounds. Your patriotism says Indians invented plastic surgery, we can easily camouflage those wounds.

My patriotism is not Modi or Jinnah, it’s every Indian. My patriotism wants to be more inclusive, you are the sole star of your patriotism. My patriotism sees dark days ahead, your patriotism thinks its time has finally arrived.

For now, it looks like your patriotism is winning.

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