national pride


i only see the saffron – slogans,
sticks, iron rods, crimson canvas –
sheathing the green and whites
with curdled screams and cow
motifs, hoisted in shameless ink –
ring-ring- stand up for the forced
bling of pride, pious and stuck
to a dominant lie, of a citizenry –

i only see the next bullet-ridden
gauri, or a broken-bodied pehlu,
amid the uproar of mob-guided
patriotic pleasantries – trishuls
overcoming law, smiles baked
in a clay cauldron of disorder –

i only see you and your voice-
less pathos, the spokes of dharma
tangling dashed freedoms, and
zealot jingoism – blood is the color
of my flag, bone is the color of
my future – another one is hanging
by the rope – green and white,
in an asphyxiating, state-sponsored,

moderately-stylized saffron tide —


Image source (Illustration: Cleon Dsouza)

For Poets United Mid-Week Motif. I took a more radical route, but that is intended in the world that we live in — nationalism or patriotism of any kind, be it associated with a particular ethnicity or religion, should never take precedence over the basic tenets of humanity.
The tricolor (Indian flag) denotes renunciation (saffron), the path of truth (white), relationship with the earth and nature (green) and the law of dharma (Ashok Chakra in the middle). In the contemporary context, the meanings have evolved or rather have emerged to build up an atmosphere of cultural and national jingoism, as can be seen in many nations around the world today. I talk about the saffron because that is also the color used by Hindutva outfits, thereby referring to the violence perpetrated in the name of religion in the last four years particularly. Certain links have been embedded wherever a few other references have been made.

23 thoughts on “national pride

  1. gillena cox says:

    You imaged in such a potent matter the ills on your society. Flagging then in a tempestous wind

    Happy you dropped by my blog today Anmol


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Susan says:

    I hope you feel free enough to get this published in other venues! It is powerful and amazing. I had to look up your allusions (thank you for the links)–but I know the rage and terror intimately.

    “stand up for the forced
    bling of pride, pious and stuck
    to a dominant lie”

    I think waving the American flag is exactly what allowed the USA 9/11/2001–but that’s just terror from without. The same story is ours internally–oh our horrible president! We say–powerless to do much more than write letters and march–we know that his ugly regime only makes our national evils more visible. God help us all.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh this is a powerful and potent poem. And I loved your thoughts after the poem even more. So well done and it deserves a much larger audience. My favourite line – the spokes of dharma. I thought of the saffron robes as I was reading. So well done. You are so right, “patriotism” (nationalism) should never take precedence over humanity. But sadly that is what is happening everywhere. What a mess it is.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. therisa says:

    Although, written about modern India, this poem can translate to most countries, in the wrapping of the flag, to commit crimes against humanity and those, who dare to speak out. Please keep writing to share the horror that’s gripping India and other nations.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you for the explanation at the end of the poem, which helped me to go back and appreciate it more, Anmal. I love the way you’ve evoked a riot using colour and nouns:in the first stanza. I also love the use of language (gauri, pehlu,trishuls and dharma), some of which I had to look up but, as a linguist, that’s something I enjoy! All of these place the poem (and flag) firmly in its country of origin. I especially admire the phrases ‘smiles baked in a clay cauldron of disorder’ and ‘tangling dashed freedoms, and zealot jingoism’ and the powerful lines:
    ‘blood is the color
    of my flag, bone is the color of
    my future…’

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Kim. I have been trying to be more authentic to my own surroundings in my written word. There’s this issue with writing in a borrowed language (even though it has become so natural that much of my thinking takes place in English too), that you easily lose your identity and differences in the plethora of voices from the lands where the language finds its major consumption. The meanings are often lost in translation, especially due to the distinctions between culture and lifestyle. As someone who reads poetry in three languages, it has been emerging to me lately. So, I am eagerly trying to learn from the best writers and poets of the subcontinent who intermingled the nuances of linguistics and cultures and used English so effectively while staying rooted to their own complexities. And thus the use of those words and allusions.

      I am glad that you could attune your reading experience by looking up those words. It’s very considerate of you.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. hypercryptical says:

    Oh Anmol, your words are indeed powerful and potent and I think there are echoes of the madness you describe (so well) in many a nation.
    I fear for humankind, for all of us, as we mindlessly step back towards the primordial soup, the abyss, from whence we came, as if somehow it will be our salvation. How quickly (some of us) are roused to hatred and division and base we become, we never learn and never will for we are driven by whom we are the primitive self that remains within us all.
    And I think it is all of us Anmol, even you and me (I think you a peace-lover too). It just takes someone to press the right button…
    We are human.
    The kindest of regards
    Anna :o]

    Liked by 2 people

    • Indeed. We are human and we are all too prone to be carried away by the fallacies and violence of our condition.
      Thank you for such a thoughtful comment, Anna. I really admire your perspective, as shared here as well as in your written word. xoxo


    • hypercryptical says:

      Dear Anmol
      Thank you for your kind comment on my blog.
      I can understand why the Union Jack brings no positives to your mind, totally understand. I think the Union Jack (for many) is synonymous with imperialism and militarism, ‘British Rule’ at its worst. Was ever British rule at its best?
      Last year the BBC gave great attention to the 70th Anniversary of India-Pakistan Independence and the horrors the trauma of partition and all that followed (If I was taught of these horrors at school (1957-68), I can’t recall at all).
      However my eyes were opened by the BBC series’ here: Regrettably the episodes’ have been timed out but it is possible to view some of the clips. Something else that might interest:
      I not proud of my countries history Anmol and hope that those who rule have changed, I am certain they have – but we are still not perfect and I don’t think any country is. Viewing the current strife in the world scares me to death. As a species, sadly humans never learn from their past, there is an animal within us…an animal that bars its teeth with regularity…
      The kindest of regards
      Anna :o]


      • Dear Anna, Thank you so much for sharing these links. I will be sure to check them out — I am glad to see the British media paying attention to the history of colonialism at last.
        One reason you may not recall having studied about it is that the education system in the UK has never paid attention to the atrocities and grim realities of the colonies. Indian politician Shashi Tharoor has recently published a book detailing the real picture of the British Raj called Inglorious Empire (published as An Era of Darkness here), which found its genesis in his speech at Oxford Union ( He provides an interesting perspective, rooted in various sources that dispute the glories propounded by many British historians.

        If you are more interested in the subcontinent narrative of the partition, I’d recommend reading Saadat Hasan Manto — an extraordinary short-story writer who wrote the most gripping and gruesome stories of that time. The English translation of his stories are easily available online. I am linking two of them, Open It and Toba Tek Singh.

        And I agree with you that no country is perfect. I just wish our history hadn’t been so white-washed.
        In the country that I live in, I am disturbed by the inequalities and atrocities every day — since independence, there have been so many communal incidents and wars and conflicts carried out as a result of own misguided nationalism. That is one reason I find any symbol denoting nationhood/statehood rather scary.

        xoxo Anmol


        • hypercryptical says:

          Dear Anmol

          Thank you for your welcome response. I know that you are right when you state that “the education system in the UK has never paid attention to the atrocities and grim realities of the colonies.”. Today I did a Google search to see if this had changed (since my long ago school days) and this: would indicate that it has not. Also, on the same Google page this came up: and I wonder what you make of it?

          Thank you for directing me to the Youtube (which I have viewed – a wonderful speaker) and also the book by Shashi Tharoor – I have ordered the book from Amazon and it should arrive tomorrow.

          ‘Open It’ made me quite emotional and I was reminded of an episode in one of the BBC’s series on Partition, where it was stated that women chose death by jumping into wells, rather that face the prospect of being raped tortured and killed on their forced journeys to supposed safety. Please know that the BBC made no attempt to hide our inglorious past and the horrors that came with Partition. (I also think his second story very clever in its telling.)

          I have not long searched Amazon for short stories of Saadat Hasan Manto and think I may have found the collection which contains the two stories – I will order same after placing this comment.

          The kindest of regards
          Anna :o]

          Liked by 1 person

          • Oh yes, the histories are toyed with in both the countries, more so in the recent times with the rise of an equally jingoistic right-wing government and the perpetuation of the same communal ideology here as has been prevalent in Pakistan for decades due to the iron stronghold of the military in its national politics.
            The only solace lies in the fact that owing to Nehruvian socialism and the resultant academic culture, independent Indian historians had a more objective viewpoint since the beginning — so we have a rich trove of history which is reflective of a balanced view when it comes to the facts while not adhering to the strictures of religion and propaganda per say. Still, the complacency to biases cannot be entirely denied.

            There was an amusing article on the differences between the portrayal of the struggle for freedom in the school curriculum of both the nations. It’s not surprising that the bitter relations have brought us to molding our history for nationalist fervor.

            I’m glad that you found Manto’s stories impactful.

            xoxo Anmol


  7. When Republic of India was created, citizens were not sought to be united on the basis of religion, language etc…but, it didn’t happen that way. Jingoism, false patriotism, is really causing concern….Disgusting indeed!
    A powerful write, HA!

    Liked by 2 people

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