Letters to Uncle Sam – Saadat Hasan Manto


In a series of Open Letters to Uncle Sam (America) he marked his displeasure at the state of world politics and Pakistan’s Security Pact with the US. He displayed a remarkable prescience as expressed in this extract from his ‘Third Letter to uncle Sam’, written shortly before his death:

”Another thing I would want from you would be a tiny, teeny weeny atom bomb because for long I have wished to perform a certain good deed. You will naturally want to know what.

You have done many good deeds yourself and continue to do them. You decimated Hiroshima, you turned Nagasaki into smoke and dust and you caused several thousand children to be born in Japan. Each to his own. All I want you to do is to dispatch me some dry cleaners. It is like this. Out there, many Mullah types after urinating pick up a stone and with one hand inside their untied shalwar, use the stone to absorb the after-drops of urine as they resume their walk. This they do in full public view. All I want is that the moment such a person appears, I should be able to pull out that atom bomb you will send me and lob it at the Mullah so that he turns into smoke along with the stone he was holding.

As for your military pact with us, it is remarkable and should be maintained. You should sign something similar with India. Sell all your old condemned arms to the two of us, the ones you used in the last war. This junk will thus be off your hands and your armament factories will no longer remain idle.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru is a Kashmiri, so you should send him a gun which should go off when it is placed in the sun. I am a Kashmiri too, but a Muslim which is why I have asked for a tiny atom bomb for myself.

One more thing. We can’t seem able to draft a constitution. Do kindly ship us some experts because while a nation can manage without a national anthem, it cannot do without a constitution, unless such is your wish.

One more thing. As soon as you get this letter, send me a shipload of American matchsticks. The matchsticks manufactured here have to be lit with the help of Iranian-made matchsticks. And after you have used half the box, the rest are unusable unless you take help from matches made in Russia which behave more like firecrackers than matches.”

More on Manto –

– Hindi and Urdu by Saadat Hasan Manto

– What is Manto?

Sources –

Manto and ‘1947’ by Tariq Ali

Khalid Hasan, ‘Sadat Hasan Manto: Not of Blessed Memory’, Annual of Urdu Studies, 4, 1984, P.85

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