**a Journey To The Khyber Pass!

A JOURNEY TO THE KHYBER
PASS!
“When spring-time flushes the desert grass,
Our caravan wind through the Khyber Pass.
Lean are the camels but fat the frails,
Lighter the purses but heavy the bales!
As the snowbound trade of the North comes down,
To the market square of Peshawar town.”
- Rudyard Kipling

Those few lines of Kipling had enticed me,
To delve into famous Khyber’s History!
And today I narrate its wondrous story!

THE KHYBER PASS
Steeped in adventure, bloodshed and mystery,
The Khyber remains the doorway of History!
Winston Churchill, then a young newspaper
correspondent, in 18 97 had said, -
‘Each rock and hill along the pass had a story
to tell! ’
Cutting across the cliffs and limestone walls
thousand feet high,
This narrow winding path of 45 km’s stretch,
Cuts through the Hindu Kush mountain range!
It formed a part of the ancient Silk Route between
Central and South Asia;
Linking Kabul with the Peshawar town in Ancient
western India!
The area is inhabited by Pashtun tribesmen who
live by their ancient Honor Code, -
They value their land and liberty and their winding
mountain roads!
They can be the greatest of friends and most
deadliest of foes!
And as the saying goes, that for a friend a Pashtun
can even give up his life;
But he never forgets a wrong, or when rubbed on
the wrong side!
He always avenges a wrong deed done, -
Even after decades, - through his sons!
The indigenous tribes living along the pass,
Regard this area as their sole preserve!
They have levied a toll on all travelers from early
days, -
For their safe conduct and passage through the
Khyber, - as Historians say!

HISTORIC INVASIONS
At its highest point the Khyber is 3500 ft in height,
And its strategic importance can never be denied!
Around 2000 BC through this pass came the Indo-
Aryan tribes from Central Asia,
Migrating to the rich fertile plains of Ancient India!
In 326 BC the great Alexander came through, -
Bribing the local tribes to gain their favour,
To defeat King Porus on the banks of Jhelum River;
And set up his short-lived Bactrian Empire!
In 1192 AD Afghan warlord Mohammad Ghori, -
Invaded India to set up the Sultanate at Delhi!
In 1220 Genghis Khan with his Mongol hordes
came through the Khyber;
He had picked up local tribesmen to help him to
plunder the ruling Arab empire!
In 1380 through this pass came Timur Lane,
To wreck and destroy the Delhi Sultanate!
And finally from Kabul through the Khyber path,
Came Babur to establish the Mogul Empire with
his victory at Panipath! *
From 1839 till 1919, here the British had fought,
Three bloody Anglo-Afghan Wars!
And before retreating, drew the famous Durand
Line to ally fears;
This line is now cause of bickering and tribal
tears!

THE KHYBER RAILWAY
At Jamrud Cantonment town 17 km west of
Peshawar,
Lies the doorway to the historic Khyber!
The track passes through a breath-taking rugged
mountainous terrain, -
Through 34 tunnels, over 92 bridges, a 42 kilometer’s
of winding stretch!
A five hour’s journey at Laudi Kotal gets complete;
The line stands as a tribute to British engineering
feat! **
The legendary Khyber Rifles had guarded the
western flanks of the British Empire,
With garrisoned troops guarding this route entire! @
Since 1990 the train is run by a private enterprise, #
With local tribesmen always taking a free ride!
Recent Taliban attacks made Pakistan to close
the Khyber Pass,
An uneasy truce prevails, only God knows how
long it will last!
But with that Durand Line of 1893 demarcated,
Forty million Pashtuns today stand divided, -
Between Pakistan and Afghanistan!
With hopes, aspirations and dreams of one day
becoming United!

- Raj Nandy
- 24 Aug 09
- New Delhi
MY HUMBLE TRIBUTE TO RUDYARD KIPLING, WHOSE VERSE -
INSPIRED ME TO DO RESEARCH BEORE WRITING THIS POEM!
WENT THROUGH SEVERAL ARTICLES ON THE INTER-NET &
MADE NOTES!
*Battle Of Panipath, April 1526, where Babur defeated numerically
superior forces of Ibrahim Lodhi; thereby establishing the Moghul Empire in India!
**On 04Nov1925, the British inaugurated the Khyber Railway to carry
troops upto Laudi Kotal on the other end, short of the Afghan border - to guard their western flanks of the Empire!
@KHYBER RIFLES: - Raised in early1880s with HQs at Laudi Kotal,
& garrison troops manning the Forts at Ali Masjid near the
mid-way point of the Pass, and also at Fort Maud to the east of the Khyber Pass!
#Khyber Railway: -With 75seats, a kitchenette & two toilets; pulled by
two old Lancashire engines of 1920 vintage! It cuts across Peshawar Airport under Air Traffic Control! It was stopped in 1982, as
economically not viable! Started again by a Private Enterprise
in 1990, in collaboration with the Pak Railway! After the Partition of
India in1947, the Khyber is under the Federal AdministeredTribalArea of Pakistan! A difficult and a volitile region to govern! !
The Khyber now remains closed due political reasons!
*** ALL COPYRIGHTS ARE RESERVED BY RAJ NANDY***

by RAJ NANDY

Comments (4)

This is one of the most pensive and gentle of the sonnets. It links in closely with the previous one, both in thought and layout. The discontent with life which was expressed there still remains in this one, as the poet surveys his past life and all the sorrows it has brought him. The language is quasi-legal, possibly based on that appropriate to a manorial court investigating discrepancies in its accounts. Hence terms like, waste, expense, grievance, cancelled, tell o'er, paid before, are employed. When the account is finally reckoned up, with his dear friend added to the balance sheet, the discrepancies and losses disappear, and all sorrow is outweighed by the joy of remembering him. .shakespeares-sonnets.com/
.. 1. When to the sessions of sweet silent thought sessions - the sitting of a court. We still use phrases such as quarter sessions in connection with legal sittings. The court imagery is continued with summon up in the following line. 2. I summon up remembrance of things past, summon up - as in summoning a witness. See above. But there is also the meaning of summoning up spirits, as if remembrances of the past were spirits which could be called back from the grave. remembrance of things past - the phrase occurs in the bible also. Wisdom of Solomon, OT Apocrypha,11.12. 3. I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought, I sigh the lack of = I sigh for the absence of, for the fact that I never attained... 4. And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste: Shakespeare uses the new/old contrast in two other sonnets This were to be new made when thou art old,2, For as the sun is daily new and old,76. The freshness of his grief is contrasted with the age of his sorrows, which, to heighten his sense of despair, he resurrects. my dear time's waste = the squandering of my precious time. waste also conveys the meaning of destruction and barrenness. 5. Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow, Then can I weep, from an eye which does not often shed tears. Drowning one's eyes suggests copious weeping. unused - Othello speaks of himself as not often weeping ......of one whose subdued eyes, Albeit unused to the melting mood, Drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees Their medicinal gum.V.ii.135. Men were expected not to weep (then as now) . See Laertes words when he cannot hold back his tears for Ophelia. Ham.IV.7.185-9. 6. For precious friends hid in death's dateless night, dateless = without end. 7. And weep afresh love's long since cancelled woe, And weep once more over the pain of one or more love affairs, though I have long since written off the sorrow associated with them. ...
.................................. 8. And moan the expense of many a vanished sight: the expense = the cost, the drain on (my) resources. The phrase probably refers more to emotional loss than to anything else, although it does link with line 3 above-I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought, especially as sight had an archaic meaning of sigh, though fallen mostly into disuse by Shakespeare's time. 9. Then can I grieve at grievances foregone, grievances = griefs; injuries done to me; foregone = in the past, that have gone before. Also perhaps, because of the similarity of the words, with some of the meaning of foredone, 'killed, dead and gone'. Compare: Your eldest daughters have fordone them selves, And desperately are dead. KL.V.3.291-2. 10. And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er Woes (sorrows) are listed as in an account book, which he heavily peruses and tots up; tell o'er - this is an accounting phrase, referring to the reading over and summation of lists of figures. We still have tellers in banks, although the word is falling into disuse. 11. The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan, Recounting these lists to himself makes him sad; hence sad account; sad also had the meaning of 'serious, weighty'. fore-bemoaned = wept for in former times. 12. Which I new pay as if not paid before. The sorrow caused by an earlier grievance requires that a debit of tears be chalked up against it. Although this debit has been cleared in the past, he now pays it over again, as if he had not paid it off before. 13. But if the while I think on thee, dear friend, The denouement of this concluding couplet is less dramatic than in the previous sonnet, in which the whole sestet lifts the poet from the doldrums. But it is no less effective. The simplicity and directness of the language contrasts with the heaping up of gloomy colours and sorrows which afflict him in the first 12 lines. 14. All losses are restor'd and sorrows end. All losses are restored - this is probably the language of a legal settlement. restore = to make restitution for damages. ..................................
Awesome I like this poem, check mine out