The Imam came to me. I asked him why he came to see a filthy kafir. “Because yesterday a good Muslim came and told his family a banshee had stood before him and raised her long black veil and he beheld her face ,and he knew her face, and it was the face of his shameful sister, and he said he was going to die. And die he did. The very next morning!”
I blinked but then acted bland. “Good” I said. “We Irish export banshees along with shamrocks and ‘Old Danny Boy’. It is our national gift to the world. But surely Pathans would not fear banshees! Banshees are ghosts of women murdered by men. In this ‘City of Men’ populated by the most fearless of men, Pathan men, you need have no fear of banshees! Pathans fear nothing! Certainly not females! I think you are afraid! Is it because you blessed a marriage of a pre-adolescent child to a middle aged pervert! Who raped her!” Then I stood straight with my chin high in the air as my passions cooled. “ The boy probably died of a viper or a bee.” The Imam glared at me. “This is not of my jurisdiction Imam as well you know! We British cannot interfere in private affairs of the natives here. Pray to your god Imam that your god will save you!” Then he stood up and spat on me and marched out.
People later told Captain Broadfoot that the Imam screamed of seeing a banshee by the river washing his tunic which ran red with blood. And he raved that when she saw him watch her she then held up a sodden bed sheet which was from his own bed! And it was stained with blood and semen. And she pointed to the evidence of his corruption. And he raved she said ‘This evil will become your shroud for you will die, and I will stand over you as you die, and I will curse you to hell, and all of your secret corruption will erupt out of you, and you will be damned eternally.’
The Imam fled to his mosque where he had preached of the damnation of women. According to Muslims almost all women go to hell for they are polluted by bad menstrual blood, and filled with polluted semen, they are utterly and absolutely corrupting of men, evil as pigs, and filthy as dogs. He cowered in the mosque and people wondered to see him cower for he was most notoriously proud.
He had infuriated the Pathan clans by his pride. He had claimed his authority as the Imam trumped the authority of clan khans, and superceded decisions made at clan jirgas, and even claimed the authority of his mosque trumped the authority of the village council of khans called the hujras. He had even in his Arabic pride declared that the offer of Captain Broadfoot to teach the boys written Pashto was evil — because the boys had to learn to read absolutely only at a Muslim school, and then only learn Arabic to read the Koran and absolutely nothing else. The Imam had declared all oral Pashto epics, poetry, and songs evil along with Pashto dances and obscure Pashto ceremonies. He had even defaced the local tomb of a local Pashto poet because that poet was also a Sufi saint. Jirgas has been held in every clan home debating what was to be done. A Hujras had been called too of all of the clans in Peshawar. But now apparently Destiny had decided to deal directly with the Imam!
By chance that night lighting struck the mosque. It triggered a most strange outburst of Saint Elmo’s Fire. The ghostly blue flames danced through the mosque. Seeing the dancing flames the Imam screamed in utter terror. Had he been home he would not have seen it. No. Not at all. Thus he died of a heart attack. The ‘City of Men’ considered the disputation thus resolved. But the banshee had other ideas……