Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Life in the Khyber: The Warrior, His Mother & Her Husband

Peshawar street scene, 19th century
"Strange events occur in the history of these frontier tribes. Outsiders will hardly credit some of the stories told, but numbers of reliable witnesses can testify to the veracity of the following one. Amongst Afridis and Pathans the disposal of a widow lies in the hands of the nearest relation to her deceased husband. If the son is of age, of course he is first consulted; but an Afridi mother with a grown son is not often of much cash value in the Khyber market. If, on the other hand, the woman is attractive and the son very young, the deceased husband's bother, should he be the guardian, either marries her himself or sells her to someone else. The widow of a Zakha Khel Afridi at Karamna in the Bazir Valley, found herself in this unhappy predicament;she had a young son, and an exceedingly objectionable brother of her husband to claim her in marriage or to dispose of her for cash. She therefore took the matter into her own hands, and fled to the country of the Mullagoris, and married a man of her own choice. /.../

[T] he Mullagori who married the widow from Karamna had no idea that she had left a young son on going to him, or, if he had, the recollection had passed out of his mind. The son, on the other hand, grew up, and nourishing his wrath, looked forward to a meeting with his stepfather, having taken care to make himself acquainted with his appearance. He was in the Khyber Jazailchies at Landi Kotal when one day he saw the man who had married his mother, and he followed him rifle in hand. The Mullagori, seeing that he was followed,a sked the young man where he was going, and in reply the latter pointed to the Shinwari village not very far away. The older man was put off his guard, and as he was passing some rough ground the younger individual knelt down and fired his piece at him, inflicting a slight flesh wound. Drawing out his long Afridi knife the wounded man chased the treacherous lad, who was unable to reload, into the Shinwari village, whose residents ecured both persons and prevented further damage being done. The Mullagori complained that, without any just cause or reason the young man had tried to murder him close to the Shinwari village. Having heard the charge the Zakha Khel shouted "No cause or reason! Did you not wed my mother without my permission?"

The Shinwaris took care to let one depart a good time before the other so as to prevent any further attempts on the life of the stepfather by his angry stepson."

Eighteen Years in the Khyber, by Sir Robert Warburton, 1899

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