Nebulous  Nationhood

Breathes there the man with soul so dead, who never to himself has said: This is my own, my native land. Fine sentiments, to be sure, and ones we heartily commend. The only trouble is that in the present topsy-turvy state of the world not even a thing as solid and respectable as nationality is entirely free of change.

For instance, just a few days ago, twins were born on an ocean liner. After the proud father had handed out the customary cigars and the ship’s captain had finished presenting his felicitations to the mother, somebody went and spoilt it all by posing the query: What was the nationality of the newborn pair? Some said the twins were British, since they were born on board the Queen Elizabeth, close in to British shores. The opposite faction held that the infants were American  – since their parents were.

In this particular case things turned out happily enough, when a legal luminary volunteered that the kids would have dual nationality and could, for the rest of their lives, take advantage of the privilege of being both Briton and Yankee. Others are not so lucky.

The unfortunate folk of Berubari, for instance. For years they have been shunting uneasily between Indian and Pakistan, unable to foresee to which country exactly they owe allegiance. One would heartily sympathise with these unfortunate where they to throw up their hands in despair and exclaim: A pox on both your houses.

26th December, 1960.

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