I have a big window in my house, and, in the last two weeks, I’ve stared out of it a lot. I am waiting to see a mushroom cloud, some deadly rays, a bright streak of toxic fire and a chance to serve my country. I had happily, willingly, in full hosh-o-hawaas voted in a Twitter poll run by a very senior, intelligent, warm-faced Indian IAS officer that I am more than happy to die in a nuclear counter-attack by Pakistan. The poll was depressingly tilting towards the option that said Indians are not willing to die in return for a complete nuclear annihilation of Pakistan. But, thankfully, post midnight, once the youth of this overwhelmingly young country got done with watching their nightly quota of adult videos on Redtub, and came back to Twitter, the “happy-to-die” option started getting traction. India had spoken.
But it’s a tough fortnight for lovers of the nation like me. I have dutifully forwarded every angry WhatsApp message back to every relative from whom I got it in the first place. I even called an uncle, my first phone call to him in the last eight years, to say aloud the lovely chant — “Doodh maangoge toh kheer denge, Kashmir maango ge toh cheer denge” — as soon as he picked up the phone. He told me about his honeymoon in Kashmir in 1974, and, I told him, had Patel been alive today, even my honeymoon would have been in Kashmir. He told me Nehru was an alcoholic, a womaniser werewolf and I told him how Lord Macaulay planned to enslave all Indians by teaching us English. He asked, “Who is Macaulay? Is he Chinese, because, this Diwali, if we don’t use Chinese maal, Pakistan will suffer ’cos our phuljhadi-anaars are funding the Taliban.” I told him to forget the Taliban and bathe his grandchild in gau-mootra because a nuclear attack is round the corner and nuclear rays can’t penetrate gau-mootra and they will protect the two-year-old who hasn’t signed up on Twitter yet. Then, we hung up after promising to stay in touch on WhatsApp by sending multiple good-morning Ganeshas till the holocaust comes.
But where’s the promised holocaust?
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I have always had a complicated relationship with Pakistan. I used to wish we also had fast bowlers with a mastery of reverse swing and shiny hair flowing supremely like the Tricolour in a central university on a windy day. In my naïve childhood, I once even made a World Cup fantasy team called India-Pakistan XI comprising Sachin and Inzy and Kumble and Waqar — a team that would have beaten Australia with its Steve Waugh and Ponting easily any day. And not just cricket, I have played that alternative history game many times in my head — what if the Partition had never happened? Manto would have stayed here, in Bombay, protesting prohibition by drinking himself to death. We would have had Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Mehdi Hassan and Noor Jehan and Ataullah Khan and would never have been forced to steal tunes from them. Heck, we’d have had a real good, original Coke Studio. But then, on the not-so-bright side, we’d have had no ’65 or ’71, and, hence, no military victories or World Cup victories or even those oddly satisfying fights in YouTube comments where I once shut up a Pakistani by calling him a Porkistani.
But here we are, 69 years after Partition, failed by our respective cowardly political systems, hoping for news anchors on both sides to tear up their baniyaans, thump their chests, let out a howl, and announce a farmaayishi war ka kaaryakram. Arnab, if you are reading this: I love you. You are not a person anymore, but an ideology. Tum kitne Arnab maarogey, har channel se Arnab niklega. A reliable source via a WhatsApp forward told me that COAS, DGMO, PMO and others keenly watch your show every night, walkie-talkies in their hands, waiting for your green signal to start the war. I know you will use this power with great responsibility. I know you will do it soon. I can see it in your eyes that you are ready. I am ready too.
I am so ready that I caught two pigeons fluttering about my balcony this morning and took them to a pathology lab for X-ray. The resident doctor refused my request at first, but then, I asked him if he is an anti-national to doubt my doubts on the pigeons. We tortured them asking, “Bol kisne bheja hai tujhe?” but they seemed well trained to keep their mouth shut. We then put them under an MRI scanner but they flew away before the results could be captured. But I will keep trying.
It’s tough, sustaining so much hate over such a long period of time. As Pakistani poet Jaun Eliya wrote, “Ye mujhe chain kyon nahin padta, ek hi shakhs tha jahaan mein kya? (Why don’t I feel good ever? As if there was only one person to think of in the entire world)” But then, true hatred requires relentless determination. If surgical strikes didn’t scare them, sending Fawad Khan back would definitely have. Who wants a grown-up son to sit nithalla (idle) at home in these times of global recession? And if that also didn’t make a dent, our news channels parading that arrested badmaash pigeon in Pathankot would definitely have sent shivers down the spine of many shareefs in Pakistan.
Hope the planets have aligned well for the final countdown. Hope both countries launch the nukes during school-hour, so that the kids get to see science in action. Dedicated teachers can explain things while it happens. Distributing pamphlets to students describing uncontrolled nuclear fission beforehand would be a good idea. I look out of the window again. No mushroom clouds yet. The wait to die is killing me.