I asked Palmer how his foot was considering how Khan’s warlords had tortured him. Palmer grinned. “Maggots my dear Nicholson! Maggots! I advise you to always employ maggots in any wound to prevent festering. Maggots eat rotten flesh and leave healthy flesh. Maggots are therefore splendid for treating gangrene. Maggots are a soldier’s best friend.” Palmer and I spoke in Afghani hoping to make the other guests queasy but they continued to eat like pigs.
“I guess that is why Khan’s warlords fed us maggoty food then” I replied staring at Khan as he nibbled away at his rich food. Khan’s warlords continued to stuff their mouths however so the repeated word ‘maggot’ did not throw them off feed alas.
“Nicholson” Palmer said. “You have expressed interest in becoming a Political Officer. So let us study the species before us! Behold the lavish durbar. It is being held in a badly maintained but once glorious palace. It was built by a Mughal. Afghans are incapable of building anything but crudely effective forts and city walls. They do not even build irrigation canals which their people desperately need, or any terrace for farming, or bridge, or other needful thing. They use the ruins left by the infinitely more advanced Gandhara Greco-Indians and Kushans whose civilization these Afghans merely vandalized and destroyed. They loot. They steal. They rob. But they are incapable of creating. Only destroying. So this glorious durbar is being held in a Mughal assembly room because they cannot do such things. But they are compelled to entertain within that which they cannot create because they are a ‘Shame Culture’ of ‘Face’ and ‘Loss of Face’. Appearances are everything. Thus they can violate every code of honor be it Nanawati or Sacred Oaths on the Koran because Face is all. Appearances. But mere appearances are cheap and misleading. A pig can strut in a stolen robe of an sultan. Appearances mean absolutely nothing.”
“How to they justify lying on the Koran if they claim to be Muslims?” I asked.
Palmer mimicked Khan’s prissy gestures. “They claim Tagiyya in the Koran gives them the right to lie brazenly, violating every sacred oath. But a man who has no honor and lies when he gives a sacred oath is beyond the pale of contempt by any honorable man and no warrior will consider him a worthy equal. He may slaughter us tonight but wild pigs slaughter Muslims with their tusks. Wild animals can slaughter quite will. That is not the same thing as honorable battle however. They will defile our corpses too. But wild jackals do likewise. Honorable warriors acknowledge fellow warriors. Wild animals just grunt and squeal.” Palmer then looked Akbar Khan straight in the eyes.
Then Akbar Khan smirked and signaled and everyone assumed we were about to be hauled away to be killed. Instead a bunch of nautch girls skipped into the rich hall and commenced gyrating erotically as bells on their ankles tinkled. Coyly they lifted their veils for men to peek at their illicit faces like voyeurs. Palmer sniffed in contempt. I was confused and so looked more closely and then realized with shock and utter disgust the nautch girls were all in fact pre- adolescent boys grotesquely larded with makeup and stinking of perfume, their black hair oiled like women, too juvenile to sport body hair of course, but already clearly professional in wanton perversion. The Afghans clapped their hands in naked lust and tossed coins. Boys gyrated erotically as the Afghan men fondled the boys with naked lust, shoving their hands down the skirts to fondle the boys’ penises while kissing them.
Akbar Khan grinned as gestured and some of the boys came over to us and danced erotically as they thrust their pelvises toward us. Everyone was shocked but Palmer. “Afghans beat, abuse, and lock up their women like prisoners but see no shame in fondling baccha dancing boys. They sodomize little boys as young as eight or nine while marrying little girls as young as nine or ten — because little girls look like little boys. Alas, both grow up don’t they? I don’t think there is a child in all of Afghanistan who is not sexually abused.” At that Mack, a Scot, grabbed the platter of rich food that had been placed before him taunting him and he hurled the food at the boy who was all but shoving his penis out for the Scot to …well…. I have never discussed sex with my Uncle Hogg, much less Mother’s strict kirk minister, and needless to say , of course never with my mother, and certainly not with my father who died when I was but a small child. Yet I got a very sordid lesson on sodomy that evening such as haunted me ever since.
I grabbed the boy in front of me and he actually thought I wanted to fondle him. He opened his mouth in a gesture of clear intent and I shook him. “Son! Don’t do this! You are going to Hell!”
“Kafir” the boy replied shameless. “When I grow up I will own a dancing boy too!” Then the shameless boy skipped over to an Afghan and gyrated with lewd intent. The Afghan laughed and grabbed the boy to fondle him.
“Afghans live for Zan, Zar, and Zamin. Palmer said. “Zan are women whom they treat as sexual objects, Zar is gold, and Zamin is land. They rape and rob and riot for Zan, Zar, and Zamin. They break every law and code and even the very laws of their religion to get Zan and Zar and Zamin. That is why they are a debased species compared to the Pathan warriors on the east side of the Khyber Pass who all magnificent examples of Tribal Warriors. They are brave beyond brave. They are noble beyond noble. They are heroic beyond heroic. They hold the Pakhtunwali Code of Honor sacred and do not violate it. They wage Blood for Blood and do not accept Blood Debt Money to profit by murder by shoving children into danger like human shields in order to get money from their deaths. Nor do they hide behind hostages like cowards. They look you straight in the eye and say what they mean and mean what they say. And they consider their word and their honor sacred.”
“Do they fondle Baccha dancing boys?” Mack growled. Everyone shuddered in disgust.
“No. Only the debauched and depraved fondle dancing boys” Palmer explained as Khan’s smirk withered up.
“And those damn Muhammadans claim to be holier than thou!” Crawford hissed. “Sodomites! Is there anything more disgusting than perverts who love men the way a man by God and nature is suppose to love a woman!”
I turned my head away and watched the moon climb the sky.
“And of course this species is remarkably dense to think we did not know about the secret treaty Dost Muhammad signed with the Russian Agents Simonich and Vitkievitch” Palmer continued blandly. “To accept cheap gold to open Afghanistan like some cheap whore with her legs wide open for the Russian Army to march through to invade India by way of the Punjab at the Khyber Pass. As if our agents in Petersburg would not know!”
Akbar Khan’s smirk vanished. “The Great Game is amusing for Russia to play” I said looking at Khan. “They want to invade Constantinople and bring down the Caliphate of World Muslim Domination. Russians will sit on the Royal Divan and burn the sacred relics like the three hairs of the beard of the Prophet and laugh. And they will plough through the Punjab to Delhi to loot – or try to – but retreat like dogs with their tails between their legs. And like any man who is beaten like a dog, he will kick the first dog he finds. It will not be the Great Sikh Nation that triumphs over Dost Muhammad of Kabul at every turn. Too bad about Kashmiri or Peshawar. You will never get those jeweled valleys. But when the defeated and humiliated Russian Army retreats through the Khyber Pass they will find a dog to kick” and then I looked straight at Khan.
“We will destroy any infidel who dares to invade our sacred land!” Akbar Khan hissed.
“The Russians will just be marching through like other looting armies your ancestors allowed to pass with cheap bribes. They will loot and rape Afghanistan as they flee. Fleeing rampage and rape is something anyone can do! I hope your harem will enjoy being raped by Russians.”
Akbar Khan glared at me. Then he gestured and burly guards hauled us out to a prison cell and chained us. We watched the moonlight gilt the sky. “I don’t mind dying” I said “But that spectacle has turned my death as ugly and as sordid as this loathsome country.”
“I just wish I could have one last mug of beer” Mack replied.
“I just wish I knew how that damn Dickens book turned out!” Crawford replied.