فصل 01

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فصل 01

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CHAPTER ONE

The Lama

Kim was a thirteen-year-old orphan who spent most of his time in the streets. Although he was dark skinned from the sun and usually spoke Hindustani, he was English. His father had been a sergeant in a regiment of the British army called the Mavericks, and his mother had been the servant of a colonel.

His father had left him three documents. Kim kept them in a little cloth bag tied to a string around his neck. Two of them showed that his father had been a member of a special club. The third was Kim’s birth certificate. When Kim’s father was drunk he often said to Kim, ‘My boy, these three documents will someday make you a man. Never lose them! A Colonel on a horse will come with a great regiment, and he will make you a better man than me! There will be nine hundred wonderful devils, whose God is a bull on a green field! Two other men will prepare the way for the colonel.’

Kim often went on missions to deliver letters or spy and when he did this he changed into the clothes of a Hindu or a Muslim. Kim knew how to travel secretly across the city of Lahore. Everywhere in Lahore people called Kim ‘Little Friend of the World’.

One day Kim was sitting on top of the giant cannon called Zam-Zammah, opposite the Lahore Museum, or Wonder House as the Indians called it. A little Muslim boy called Abdullah shouted at Kim, ‘Off! Off! Let me up!’

Kim shouted insults at the little boy.

‘Let me up!’ shouted a little Hindu boy named Chota Lai.

Kim shouted some more insults at this other friend. Then he stopped his game for a moment because he saw a very strange man. This man was almost six feet tall and dressed in red.

‘Who is that?’ Kim said to his friend.

‘Perhaps it is a man,’ said Abdullah.

‘Without a doubt,’ replied Kim. ‘But he is not like any man I have ever seen in India.’

‘A priest, perhaps,’ said Chota Lai, because the man carried a rosary. ‘Look! He is going into the Wonder House!’

The old man walked towards the boys.

‘Children, what is that big house?’ he asked in Hindustani.

‘The Wonder House!’ said Kim.

‘Ah! The Wonder House! Can anyone go in?’ asked the man.

‘Anyone can go in. It says so on the door,’ said Kim.

‘Without payment?’

‘I go in and out. I am no banker,’ laughed Kim.

‘I am an old man. I did not know,’ he said and turned towards the museum.

‘Where is your house? Have you come far?’ Kim asked.

‘Are you from China?’ asked Abdullah.

‘I come from the hills,’ he said sadly, where the air and water are fresh and cool. Have you heard of Tibet? I am not Chinese, but Tibetan. I am a lama, or as you say in India, a guru, or religious teacher.’

‘A guru from Tibet,’ said Kim. ‘I have never seen one of those.

‘We are Buddhists, I and I am going to see the Four Holy Places before I die. Now you, who are children, know as much as I know, who am old.’ He smiled at the boys.

Then the lama asked, ‘Is it true that there are many images in the Wonder House?’

‘Yes,’ answered Kim, ‘and there is a Sahib with a white beard. Come, I will show you.’

The boy and the old man went into the great building. They saw hundreds of sculptures and pictures from Buddhist temples. Then they came to one of Buddha on a lotus.

‘The Lord! The Lord! It is the Buddha himself,’ the lama said with great emotion. ‘My pilgrimage has begun well.’

‘And there is the Sahib,’ said Kim, pointing to an Englishman with a white beard.

The lama took out a piece of paper with a name on it and gave it to the Englishman.

‘Yes, that is my name. Welcome, lama from Tibet!’ said the Englishman.

The two men began to talk about Tibet and Buddhism. Kim lay down and slept for a bit. When he woke up, he heard the lama telling a story about the young Buddha.

‘You see,’ said the lama, ‘when our Lord Buddha was a young man, he was in a competition with bows and arrows. He shot his arrow farther than anybody. When the arrow finally hit the ground, water came up and became a river. Now anybody who goes in that river washes away all sin.

‘Where will you go to look for your Holy River?’ asked the Englishman.

‘First I will go to Benares and ask a Jain priest. He may be able to tell me the way,’ said the lama.

‘And how will you eat?’ asked the Englishman.

‘Before, I had a disciple, or chela as you call them here. He begged for me, but sadly he died. I must do it myself now.’

The old lama and the old Englishman talked some more, and then said goodbye. The lama walked outside and sat under Zam - Zammah in the shade. Kim followed him.

‘What are you going to do now?’ asked Kim.

‘I am going to beg. I am quite hungry,’ answered the lama. ‘How do you beg in this city? Quietly or speaking?’

‘Oh you must speak,’ answered Kim. ‘But let me go and beg for you. I know the people of this city.’ So Kim took the lama’s begging-bowl and left.

In a short time, Kim came back with some hot vegetable curry, a fried cake and some rice. Both he and the lama ate. After their meal, the lama, who was an old man, fell asleep. Kim went to his secret place and got his Hindu clothes and put them on.

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