(Is it really so different today?)

By Kenneth J Clarke
Chapter Headings
From his upcoming historical novel
And Then There Was One


afridiWhen a military commander like Muhammad Akbar Khan

Leads the tribes to drive ferenghee’s1 beyond ‘Afghanistan,

When the British politician thinks ‘is career must come first,

‘Tis a time when the conqueror’s bubble will topple down an’ burst.


Now, the Aghan tribesman, ‘e’s a soldier tried an’ true,

When ‘e’s on the field of battle or discussin’ terms with you.

When ‘is negotiation lingers, ‘n’ ‘e asks ter shake your ‘and,

T’is time ter count yer fingers, ‘n’ depart ‘is bloomin’ land.


When winter’s closin’ on you, an’ the chat seems near an end,

When grub is disapearin’, an’ you think now ‘e’s your friend,

It’s time to look around you ter see where you can go,

Fer be sure that ‘e’s a soldier, who wants you dead, on Afghan snow


Now death can be clean ‘n’ simple, like a bullet in the brain,

Or it can linger slowly like frostbitten limbs, with pain

That cruelly tears your soul apart as you march towards the gates;

‘Tis those of ‘ell I refer to, where I’ll go an’ meet me mates.


Now the Afghan, ‘e’ll send you on this march, without a doubt,

As ‘e fires from far ‘is jezails2 an’ drives you on a rout.

The transition ‘twill come easy, from the Khyber down ter ‘ell,

Fer ‘tis ‘ard ter tell the difference ‘till you finally ring that bell.


As you march right up ter Satan, your limbs froze numb fer sure,

You’ll find that ‘ell, she’s better with ‘er warmer temperature.

When you shake ‘is ‘and an’ thank ‘im fer stokin’ all that ‘eat

‘E’ll then agree, the Afghan soldier, ‘e’s a devil ‘ard ter beat. 



1 Ferenghee; Foreigner, derogatory term

2 Jezail; A long Afghan matchlock rifle

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