In the original Arabic, “watan” merely means ‘country’; to refer to ‘your country’, you used the word “watani”. But by the time the word entered the colloquial Indian lexicon, after being used in a song by a popular Bollywood playback singer, it acquired a whole new identity- it came to mean ‘motherland’. Strangely too, for a word that is essentially Islamic in origin, it acquired patriotic overtones of the kind Hindu fundamentalists love to exploit.
“Watan” is now almost a call to action. Sadly, the only time people really think of it is when the national team wins in cricket.
There are words, and there are words. Some words can be easily translated, others need to be described. In April, I’ll attempt to capture the Soul of 26 'Indian' words in a drabble of exactly 100 words.