I'm telling you a story, listeners!
Among the Afridis was a youth named Ajab Khan.
He was a valiant Pathan whose manliness was not doubted, and this young man was a firm enemy of the English. He firmly detested slavery and he had a brother, Shahzada, also like a rose. His dear father is remembered by the name Sherdil, and his family was both honored and respected. They were of Adam Khel lineage, living in the Pass, and that tribe is famous for its brave men. His father had died, leaving behind him the two brothers who were brave fellows eager for weapons.
Ajab Khan was in the season of his youth and he had a great desire to fight the British. He had a rifle and pistol slung over his shoulder and he was famous for his great accuracy at targets. When the lads gathered together in the guesthouse, the young ones would make jokes and wisecracks. Music was made with rebab and clay drum and the sessions would warm up the maidan.
But Ajab Khan would lie tight-lipped on a bed and one day his friends questioned him. They said to him, "Ajab Khan, tell us, you're lying silent, what's the sadness in your heart? You don't join us in the party and we don't see a smile on your lips either."
Ajab Khan then said to them, "My friends, all the British are thorns in my eyes! I resent it when we're humiliated and when the Englishmen consider us as slaves. When Pathans salute the British, it's like falcons being servants to crows. Thinking about this to myself, it makes me weep, for lions have become obedient to jackals! Those Pathans who used to smash the enemy's teeth are now beneath the earth. But my heart's set on fighting with the British and I'll make the tyrants open up their eyes. I won't pass my life with eyes lowered, that's a promise! And I'll be remembered as a real man until the Resurrection^"
The packed guesthouse sat silently, Jamshed.'
His words rang like thunder in the skies for them
By the time Ajab Khan had finished that statement, he'd made every youth in the guesthouse uneasy. The party sat in silence, putting aside the rebab. No voice of theirs was raised, each and every person was thinking. The Pathan blood was hot with courage and the filled guesthouse well understood his meaning.
Then his friends said to him, "Ajab Khan, we won't be left behind in a fight." They all made promises to Ajab Khan, "We'll go wherever you say. We're truly in agreement with you on this, and we're all your servants, the choice is yours. Only when we "' sacrifice our lives for our country will we be genuine, Pathans. We'll show our strength to the British, and we won't let men violate purdah in our houses."
When Ajab Khan heard those statements, he had many praises for them. He said, "Now I'll destroy the English for you, I am brave and why would a titmouse worry me! If I'm truly born of an Afridi, I'll sacrifice my life and wealth for freedom."
Briefly, Ajab Khan was much cheered up when his friends had the same ideas as his. Ajab Khan (hen said to them, "My friends, you've spoken the words of real men! With courage, men reach their destination and we'll make ourselves remembered, why point fingers at others? Children of Pathans do not fear death and just one alone would fight an army! It would be fitting now to pray: 'May Allah make us successful and may God make this meadow of ours full of flowers!' "
Jamshed says, "The brave boys are holding a jirga!
They're longing for a fight with the British!"
Ajab Khan held a jirga of his friends and he explained this to them in the guesthouse. He said to them, "Comrades, in my opinion, we ought to find weapons. We need to have English rifles, for guns from the Pass aren't trustworthy in a fight. We'll see then that we have proper weapons because war and battle sometimes go well, sometimes badly. I'll go at once to Kohat Cantonment and somehow or other, I'll get rifles."
The jirga was over, Ajab Khan set off from there and he was quite happy with his faith refreshed. That brave fellow went to Kohat Cantonment and he had to wander about apparently aimless. It's daytime with people rushing back and forth and soldiers are walking all around, the cantonment's noisy.
In front of the gate he saw a sentry who had a genuine gun lying under his arm. Sometimes he was at attention, rifle in hand, and sometimes he marched back and forth, putting it on his shoulder. Ajab Khan watched him beneath his eyelashes, and judged him from front and back on every side. Little by little he then approached the sentry's side, so put your ear to this, learn of the events!
He shoved that sentry very hard and he flung him upside down on his face. Then he swiftly snatched the rifle from him and the theft was over in the blink of an eye. In an instant, Ajab Khan had gone and vanished as the sentry stood up, moaning and groaning.
Hearing his cries, all the soldiers gathered and they were confused and raced in all directions. In a moment, the bugle alarm had been played and soldiers marched off in step to it. They blocked off roads all around and they also spread guards out on every side. But Ajab Khan had gone off ahead and the British were truly amazed by that deed. The colonel said, "Was that a human or a peri? There was no fear at all in his heart, he was a lion!"
Jamshed says, "The Englishmen are worried!
They woke up the lion and their luck is running low."
When Ajab Khan carried off the rifle with his special strength, he was praised from house to house among Afridis. The Afridis all were happy about that deed, and he seemed absolutely perfect to them.
Briefly, when Ajab Khan put his hand to it, he made the Britishers' heads swim. There were eight or ten persons among his best friends who'd been proven brave, one after another. Ajab Khan was commander of them all and those boys his age would all obey his orders. They'd sit up on the mountain all day and then at night they'd skillfully come down. The brave lads would surround the regiment and then they'd send a rain of bullets on them. Panic was spreading through the army and it was ignobly put to flight by Ajab' s men. Ajab Khan was carrying off rifles from them, and he was making intense attacks on them.
In short, the English were harassed by him, and they no longer found in themselves the strength to fight. The British are quite famous for their guile and they walk about with traps for cheating in their pockets. When they lose to one enemy, then they corrupt another with deceit.
Jamshed says, "May the Lord look after Ajab Khan!
The British have set a trap for the man of the maidan."
A trick's being planned, may the Lord look after Ajab Khan, for the British tremble when they hear his name. There was a close friend of Ajab Khan in Khairabad and the English started stuffing him with money. The English scoundrels bribed him as they started on their schemes. They said to him, "Ajab's been harassing us and he's fighting us through no fault of our own. He's also carried off a great many weapons from us and he doesn't desist from disturbances even when we plead. Either you should catch him with some trick so that lion may be chained in jail, or if you can't do that, make him content however you can and get him off our backs! We'll give you as much money as you want and we'll set him up as a Malik among Afridis."
That friend said to them, "0 British, when is catching him an easy matter? Ajab Khan's awake all the time, he's quite intelligent, and his pace is swifter than the antelope. I won't wake the lion from his sleep myself, for I can't hold up my head to that thunder from the sky. Furthermore, I'm his long-time friend and the job of catching him is not for me to do. I'm a Pathan, I don't go to bed with my mother, and I'm not fond of wealth and riches like Croesus. But I'll give him advice, though it's not likely that he'll yield to pleading.'"
His friend sent off a letter to him, O Jamshed!
With great thought, he addressed the letter to him.
His friend wrote in the letter to Ajab Khan, "Think this over and listen well to my words. The British are ready for a truce with you and they'll even give your family an allowance. They'll give you as much money as you want, if you'll then not go into the field to fight. They'll also pardon all your comrades and they'll offer rewards to each of them. Your prestige and honor will increase among all tribes, and your enemies will envy your fine style. I've told you, now the future will be as you wish and you're intelligent, so look to your gains and losses! But it would be good for you to listen to me and not to wake up more sleeping snakes for yourself! Making war with Englishmen is difficult, for come and see their war equipment! They have planes by the thousands and their cannons even make dust fly to the sky."
When Ajab Khan read the letter, Jamshed,
Fire burnt in him and he was angry at the simple man.
This is not a lie, it's a true narrative, and every single couplet of it is worth a ruby. Ajab Khan answered the letter of his friend and his whole point from beginning to end was honor! He wrote to him, "I'm surprised at you, what do you suspect me of, what do you intend! Assign a greed for money to someone else, someone whose forefathers behaved contemptibly. There is no time when people who've sold their honor for money are respected. I'm a Pathan upholding the honor of Pathans, and what need is there for long or short discussions on that. If my life is sacrificed for freedom, I'll be quite happy, that's a martyr's death!
My name would live until the Resurrection while life in this world is over in a short time. I won't make the mistake of friendship with the British, for that is poison, though it's the color of sherbet."
"I'm a brave man dwelling in the Black Mountains, I'm not a parrot and I detest the cage. I have no use for rich pilaus in slavery, and even fasting is a great luxury in freedom. In my every vein runs true-born blood and every single deed of mine is noble and courageous. Even if you'd give me wealth of Khyber mountain's weight, my honor is sweeter to me than that."
"A parrot eating wheat is captive in a cage while a falcon's head is high with pride though he's not fed. Men without honor are infamous even after death and historians will utter curses on them. I'll not have a truce with the British, for in their minds, they despise Pathans."
Jamshed of Topi, for anyone who reflects on it,
There's advice in those remarks for every Pathan.
In Kohat the generals gathered together and they held a jirga secretly for this. The big general said to them, "Be alert and be ready to fight with Ajab Khan. Even the viceroy in Delhi is uneasy, and he notified me this evening. 'Block him off in a hurry, for Ajab Khan's crucifying us alive. He's killed many Englishmen on every side and he's injured countless of them. His hatred of the British is so great that when he takes captives, it's hard for him to free them. We said that we'd surely catch him with a trick or that he'd settle down with money from us. But heaven help us, words have no effect on him! We agree on good and he does evil. He's a lion every time he comes onto the field and the soldiers in the trenches are in confusion. Our army is afraid of his shadow and they won't stand firm when they hear his name! Believe me, Ajab Khan is so accurate that not one of his bullets misses in the field. Think on it, answer me quickly, and do this job so that we'll be successful!' "
The generals spoke thus to their commander, "Our army will be ready in the morning. We will swiftly surround the Pass and in an instant we'll pen in Ajab Khan. We will also ravage the rebels' houses, so they'll come to know the strength of Englishmen."
Jamshed of Topi, the report was passed.
Now the business of that session was finished
At night the British led out their troops and the assault on the Afridis was begun. The British made the search and returned, and they were happy ten times over with that deed. The English weren't aware that they'd made themselves a mess and they thought it was enjoyable like sugar. They were very happy over their success, and they weren't aware that they'd weep again tomorrow. [This all happened when Ajab Khan was away].
The narrator says that when Ajab Khan came home, he greeted his mother respectfully. His mother said, "Keep out of my sight, you're a disgrace, may black earth be heaped upon you! I can't hold up my head before our tribe and I sit reproached by high and low. The British took from us our honor and they vilely exposed the women. The tyrants unveiled our young girls and they took away the young men's rifles too. If in truth you are my son, you will openly take revenge on the British. If there's any cowardice in you, my son, I'll shed no tears about your death. I won't look upon your face in its shroud, and I won't allow your grave on our hind either. Among Pathans, it's only when you bring forth brave offspring that ancestors' names are recalled with honor."
The women and girls surrounded Ajab Khan and they wept and told him the whole story. They said to him, "There's been a great wrong done to us and there's no one to complain to except you. We long for revenge to be taken, for living with lowered eyes is very difficult." His mother also cried, weeping and wailing and her face was [as red as] a pomegranante flower with rage.
O Jamshed, Ajab Khan was silent before them!
Honor had set his body boiling.
Ajab Khan then said to her, "Mother dear, you won't see cowardice coming from me! I'm a Pathan, my forefathers were real men, and they were famous throughout the world for their bravery. Don't taunt me, mother of mine! Why do you make my heart burn with fire? I'll take revenge on the English, and I'll separate their heads from their bodies! If I don't triumph for our tribe, it was unlawful for me to have nursed at your breast. That's why I'm going to take revenge on the enemy and if I die, forgive me! Mother, don't forget to pray for me that 1 may succeed in my desires. The British have just gone too far with us, and I'll break the crest of pride for them. Just as they've shamed us completely, so will I bring sorrows to them."
Ajab Khan put his hand on the Qoran and he said, "I will then call myself a man when I've upheld the turban of Pathans. How can I live without holding my head up! I'll show the British my strength, and my ambtion is to take revenge on them now!"
When Ajab Khan spoke those words to his mother, she looked up with eyes full of tears. She said to him, "Son, hurrah for you, brave sons can make a father's name beautiful! The English acted coarsely with Afridis and I've walked with eyes downcast from the taunts. Now when you take revenge on them, you'll give me my heart's desire. I entrust you to God, may the Lord be your companion and may all the enemies be smashed to a pulp beneath your feet!" His mother then kissed Ajab Khan on both cheeks and she even cleaned the rifle for him herself.
O Jamshed, Ajab Khan takes leave and goes.
His mother's happy, sending him off on a crusade!
Ajab Khan sent a reply to the English demands, "O English, I'm a butcher after your heads. You've acted improperly with Afridis, like titmice encircling falcons. You unveiled the women who keep purdah and next you'll stretch out full-length in my bed. When you made that search of every house, it was a very humiliating matter for us. It's a great pity that I wasn't on my land, for otherwise I'd have sent you back in shrouds. Anyone who's a man would fight face to face, but you're deceivers doing deeds of deceit. I will take revenge on you for that, so be alert! I'll be coming for you today or tomorrow, so stay awake! A Pathan may well get killed but he won't take defeat and a life with lowered eyes would be hard for him."
Jamshed says, "The Englishmen are worried.
Ajab Khan won't leave them alone and their luck is running low."
Ajab Khan came to the guesthouse restlessly. His raid on the cantonment is in a little while. Young men and old surround him, and the graybeards make this kind of talk with him, "Holy Allah will give you victory, Ajab Khan, and you'll be successful, we have confidence in you."
Ajab Khan then said to them, "Listen, people, a life with lowered eyes is quite a disgrace for us. How would a name such as Pathan be used for me unless I take revenge on Englishmen! The foreigners have tricked us, they're scoundrels, and they attacked us with deceit, that's woman's work. Now I'll take revenge on them, may the Lord give blessings, for though yesterday was theirs, today is my turn at them." When Ajab Khan made that rousing speech, he put lighted coals on everyone's heart. It's late afternoon, the lion now takes his leave, and all his comrades are ready with rifles in hand.
Briefly, eight or ten people are ready with Ajab Khan as leader of that troop. They set off in the evening for Kohat Cantonment while shops are open and people are awake. He goes inside the commander's bungalow, and heaven forbid that the watchman realizes it!
Whoever jumps in head first, Jamshed,
Will be admired for bravery in battle.
Truly Ajab Khan did have honor, but what is he to a thousand enemies? The night is dark, clouds roam in the sky, and Ajab Khan is taking a stroll on the maidan. He entered the commander's bungalow, and he left his comrades in the garden. In Kohat there was an English man named Ellis who was a great tyrant and short tempered with everyone. His wife was living in the bungalow and also with her a daughter like a nightingale. They were staying in the center rooms while the rest of the officers lay on the other sides. Mother and daughter were both comfortably asleep and Ajab Khan went inside fearlessly. He woke the memsahib from her sleep and he spoke softly and gently to her. He said to the major's wife, "Get up, and accept that you're coming with me right now. I'm taking you with me to my land and I'll show the British my strength."
That memsahib said to him, "Ajab Khan, you'll not now "o from this field alive. Soldiers are lying outside by the thousands and you've come for your death, so wash your hands of life." Then that memsahib let out a loud scream and she ran about making" a commotion in the room. Loudly she said, "Come, people, for Ajab Khan has come here, and be careful!"
Ajab Khan said to himself, "How sad this is, for I know this memsahib's luck is running out. She'll certainly make people aware of me now when she's running around the room, screaming and shouting. Then people will say, 'what lion was he, caught by one woman all alone!' Now I'll surely be forced to kill her, for if I let her go, my fate will be wretched."
O Jamshed, Ajab Khan put a hand on his dagger!
No more did he plead with her. He ended the discussion.
When Ajab Khan unwillingly took up his danger, he finished the memsahib with a blow. He gave her one firm blow and the memsahib fell face down on the floor. All the field was crimson red with blood and then Ajab Khan started talking to her daughter. He said to her, "Come along respectably, and if you make noise, then you're preparing for death."
This memsahib understood, "Misfortune now has come to me and the fate that will come is forced on me now. If I refuse, my death is certain, and like it or not, this brave man will take me now. As he killed my mother in an instant, so he'd kill me on the field also." The truth is that nothing's sweeter than one's life and when death is coming, then who thinks the family sweet.?
Jamshed of Topi, this memsahib was intelligent.
She was ready to go with Ajab Khan.
When Ajab Khan took that memsahib away, there was a huge uproar and the whole world learned of it by morning. There were phone calls to police stations in every direction and soldiers stood by the stations everywhere. They telegraphed as far as Delhi and the British were horrified. The British raced out their regiments and they even carried cannons in their tanks.
But Ajab Khan did not fall into their hands, though they searched high and low. The lion had slipped through their fingers and the brave man was even then climbing (he Black Mountains. He'd made the English open their eyes and everyone was singing praises of Ajab Khan. The banner of the Pathans was raised up in the world and Englishmen were trembling as far away as London. And thus Ajab Khan took revenge on them and he broke the Britishers' backs with his power. The British had been censured in this world and the courageous Pathan had made them hang their heads in shame.
O Jamshed, the English should indeed be crying?
Look ahead.' What will happen to Ajab Khan.'
The British used expedients of every kind and there were soldiers standing on each road in Kohat. But Ajab Khan escaped safely from them and the lion was greatly honored in his own place. The British were wringing their hands with sorrow and they said this, "Alas, why did we meddle.'" They sent a nanawati request to Ajab Khan and they said, "Stop it, you've done too much to us." The British said, "Be satisfied now, Ajab Khan, for you've taken revenge on us bravely! We're beaten and you've won, now peace, and we're coining to your feet with pleas and jirgas. Be good now, give that memsahib hack, and stop being hostile and antagonistic to us. We'll give you as much money as you want and if you have any other need, we'll fill it."
Ajab Khan then said to them, "Englishmen, I'm a Pathan and 1 did the deed of a courageous man! You made a search of the Afridis and your attack as we slept was cowardly. Don't make offers of money to me, for I'm not a merchant who waits around for a profit. I'm not hungry, nor am I a bandit or a robber and I'm not a burglar or a shopkeeper after money. I'm a Pathan, I've done a deed of honor, and I've taken revenge on you with force.''
In brief, the British were unsuccessful, for their plan had not been solid from the start. The district's political officer was trying hard but Ajab Khan was giving him a tough answer.
The British were pleading, "Ajab Khan, kind sir, give the memsahib back to us!" When would Ajab Khan obey those words? He was walking the memsahib about in the mountains! Ajab Khan was keeping the memsahib in trust and the profession of a genuine Pathan is being noble.
The memsahib wrote a letter on this matter. "Truly, Ajab Khan's a brave Pathan! He lakes very good care of me and he tells me not to be depressed at heart! He doesn't trouble me in any way and he's quite noble, I commend him. He keeps me comfortable in the Black Mountains and he brings me food of every kind. We live like brother and sister in one house, and I wander un-worried in all directions with him." When this letter was received by the English, they were happy again and their hearts went back in place.
To be brief, nothing happened with the jirga, for Ajab Khan had clearly turned them down. Ajab Khan went ahead with the memsahib and he settled down below Khanki Bazaar. There are Sahibzadas living in Khanki Bazaar and they are famous in the world for generosity. Ajab Khan settled in that village for it seemed to him a haven. Akhund Sahibzada Mahmud put his hand on him and he said to him, "Have no misgivings about staying here!" Akhund Mahmud was respected everywhere and he was both generous and compassionate.
O Jamshed, Ajab Khan was very happy!
What does he know of what will happen tomorrow?
The Englishmen were tired of jirgas and Ajab Khan was not returning the memsahib. The political agent pleaded much with him, but all his skills were useless. When all their efforts were in vain, they went with their complaint to Akhund Mahmud. They said to him, "He's gone too far with us, so give us help, your excellency! We've come for nanawati to your door, and surely we won't go back in vain. We know well that you can make Ajab Khan agree and that will make this night of sorrow into morning for us. He'll certainly obey your words and that brave fellow should leave us in peace now! We accept that he took his revenge courageously and that he doesn't fear our great power."
When the jirga helplessly made its request, Sahibzada Mahmud felt very sorry for them. Then he spoke to the jirga in this way, "I'll sit Ajab Khan down in private. Then I'll give you an answer in the morning, for these aren't matters that can be hurried."
O Jamshed, this is the tale of a valiant Pathan.
The value of its every couplet is like coral.
Sahibzada Mahmud then said to Ajab Khan, "That's enough, you can hold your head high in the world. You've given the British a lot of punishment and now they're shamed all around as far as London. They won't outrage Pathans now; they've started thinking and understand the situation well. Return the memsahib to them now, that's my request, for they're pleading very much and are up against a wall. If an enemy has been well defeated, what's the use in killing him? It's enough that he is humble and abject before you. If you'd like, we'll give them that memsahib now and we'll make the burden of this favor heavy on their heads."
Ajab Khan then said to him, "It's up to you, for do I ever refuse what you ask? I only said that I'd exhaust the British and I'd make them cry when my hand reached out. But I'll agree to whatever you say since I long for your five daily prayers. I'll obey your words, you are my pir, and I won't do things that distress you." To be brief, Ajab Khan acquiesced and the jirga then left happily. The jirga took the memsahib with great honor and Ajab Khan let her go with his own hands;
O Jamshed, make this story reach its end!
She indeed has left. Where will Ajab Khan go now?
Ajab Khan returned the memsahib with honor. The noble Pathan had submitted to their pleas. He gave that memsahib into the jirga' s hands and the British had been censured for their deeds. Nine days and nights the memsahib was in his power, but he'd been true and had kept her in trust. When that memsahib returned to her home, she gave much praise to Ajab Khan. She told the story of what happened to her and the English were convinced by her of his nobleness.
Ajab Khan said to himself, "I'm going to Kabul, for life here doesn't seem good to me now. The British act cruelly to Pathans and they're tyrants who won't give up their habits. They've caught Pathans in traps by guile and they've made some agree by land grants, some by bribes. In this world, freedom is a fine delight and the British have taken that delight from me. There's no kind of home for me in my homeland, and it's too bad, alas, but slavery is great humiliation. I've put my stamp on British foreheads and I'm a Pathan, I did a deed of honor. 1 will live in Kabul so long as the British are ruling. The British have made my homeland hell for me and may the Lord change that hell into paradise! I'll come here again when the country's free and when Muslims have control of the government." In short, Ajab Khan left for Kabul and Shahzada emigrated with him too.
Both brothers were without a country, Jamshed!
They took their leave of young and old.
Then when our lovely Pakistan was made, Ajab Khan was very happy about it. Ajab Khan said, "Thanks be to God that the enemy has left my home land! The power of the impious tyrants is finished and the strength of Muslims has prevailed over them. That cage of slavery has fallen apart and now the green parrots shall fly without grief. When the English left, our land became free and only now has the anger been removed from my heart."
O nightingales, circle around the flowers because autumn has decamped forever! May Jinnah, Quaid-i- Azam, be praised, for lie sent the Englishmen off to London! May there also be congratulations for those splendid young men who became martyrs in the fight for freedom!