Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Afridi and the Mullah



A certain Afridi being desirous to learn to read, went into a village to a Mullah and said to him, that it would be a great favour if he would give him lessons. The Mullah asked him whether he had learnt any thing previously, and the Afridi told him that he had not learned to read. He then asked him what he would commence with, and the latter replied, that he would do as the tutor might direct. The Mullah told him that in the first place he should get the Alphabet by heart, and then commence reading the first section of the Quran; to which the Afridi having agreed, he was requested to come the next morning.

When the Afridi made his appearance the next morning, the Mullah taking the Alphabet in his hand pointed out the first letter, and requesting his scholar to repeat after him, said “Alif.” “Alup,” repeated the Afridi. “That is not the pronunciation,” said the teacher, “repeat exactly as I say—Alif.” “Alup” says the Afridi again with the greatest innocence possible. “Do not pronounce it so,” said the Mullah, “call it Alif.;” and the Afridi like an obedient pupil obeying his instructor to the letter said, “Do not pronounce it so, call it Alup.” The Mullah again said, “That is not correct, call it Alif.” “That is not correct, call it Alup,” said the Afridi. The Mullah, who was not a second Job, now losing all patience said, “Oh ! infidel, call it Alif,” on which the Afridi replied, “Oh ! infidel, call it Alup.” The Mullah at this becoming very angry gave the Afridi a box on the ear. The latter now thought within himself, “Master commanded me to repeat whatever he said, and doubtless it is necessary that I should also do as he does;” so thinking this a part of the lesson, he dealt the Mullah a hearty box on the ear in return. At this specimen of Afridiness, the latter becoming more enraged than ever, seized the Afridi by the throat; and the pupil obeying his instructor to the letter seized him by the throat also. In this state they both rose from their squatting position and commenced wrestling. At length the Afridi having the advantage in strength, succeeded with little trouble, in laying the Mullah at full length on his back, and seated himself on his breast; at the same time looking towards the latter expecting him to go on with the lesson.

In this unpleasant situation it struck the Mullah that his amiable pupil might probably have taken his words, “to imitate whatever he might say,” in too literal a light, and that possibly he might be only imitating him in this instance; so taking his hands off the Afridi he exclaimed, “Oh Infidel, let me go.” The Afridi replied, “Oh ! Infidel, let me go,” and allowed the Mullah to get up; after which he said, “Master | that was not a good lesson by any means, it was a hard fight.” The Mullah answered, “You speak truly; tomorrow it will come to swords.” “If such is the case,” said the Afridi, “I will go home and fetch my sword,” and he set out accordingly. The Mullah glad of this opportunity, thought there was no time to be lost; and that very night he made himself scarce. ["A Grammar of the Pukhto, Pushto, Or Language of the Afghans", H.G.Raverty, p-vi]


Ali Masjid, Khyber Pass, c.1910. Photo by R.B.Holmes