This is a satire piece. 

The country was also called the ‘Land of blackberries’. The people of the nation who were proud of its ancient civilisation had recently embraced democracy. Citizens cast their votes to determine the leaders who will govern the country. The people of the nation continued to address their elected leader as their Emperor. Some would say, it is better to be ruled by a benevolent dictator than a corrupt elected leader who needs to be removed every four years. Democracy puts the onus on the citizens. What about citizens who do not want to take responsibility, do they not have a choice?

The Emperor on his part did everything to keep his kingdom happy, like speak to them once a week and continuously renamed the state programs and roads so that he can keep his citizens guessing.  He had strange hair that looked like a wig. A state order from the Home office barred any debate on his Highness’s hair.

There was no doubt that he was the leader of the masses and enjoyed widespread support. The news of his love for wearing fashionable clothes had reached far and wide. A fashion designer of excellent repute approached him and gave him an exciting proposal. He said that he had discovered a new fabric that was thinner than the spider’s web silk and now he has mastered the art of using it to make the lightest fabric in the world.  He said he would like to make a royal dress for the Emperor with this new material, a dress that would please even the eyes of the Gods. He noted that the fabric had a fantastic property that it would be invisible to anyone who had anti-national thoughts. It would be wonderful to have clothes made from this most beautiful silk, thought the Emperor, and I would also know which of the citizens are unfit for nation-building. They can be arrested and sent away to the neighbouring country or the land of enemies.

The Emperor asked the State bank to grant a large line of credit to the fashion designer so that he can work on this project of great national importance. The chief clerk of the bank immediately prepared the relevant documents to facilitate the grant and the accountant was asked to write-off the entire credit line. The news about the emperor’s new cloth and its ability to identify traitors spread throughout the country via the state-sponsored news channel which was called the blue-bird.

The day arrived, and the fashion designer entered the Emperor’s residence and presented him with his new dress, the kurta, the pyjamas and the overcoat.

“His Highness – “It is the finest fabric in the world, so thin and delicate that you may not even notice that you are wearing it.”

The fashion designers pretended to dress him one by one. The emperor looked at the mirror. He announced a State award for his masterpiece.

The Emperor said: “It is so beautiful and fits me so naturally that it looks as if I was born to wear this”

The Emperor was ready to meet his people. He walked through the promenade to greet his subjects. He waved his hands and gesturing as he always did. The public who had gathered to see their beloved leader were a bit surprised but none spoke, after all not being able to see the fabric is tantamount to being anti-national.

A small child from the crowd exclaimed “He does not have anything on – shame. He is nangu-pangu” (naked in local language)

His father heard his child and pulled him back from the crowd and put his hands on his mouth while making sure that no one hears him speak the truth. The gagged child cried. The procession ended with fireworks, and the Emperor’s men arrested two hundred men and women including children for all of them had hinted that the emperor had no clothes.

That evening the emperor looked into the mirror and smiled.  He looked at his home minister “Now we can work in peace there will be no dissent for a few years, make sure you manage the cases, it should send a message that we as a country will not tolerate sedition.”

“Sir, what about the fashion designer sir, what do we do with him?”

The Emperor laughed: “Did you ever see him? He is as invisible as the fabric.”

The author is a Data Scientist. Views are Personal. 


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December 2023



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