Chapter V

Notes on
the text

by Sharad Keskar

The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan Uniform Edition of Kim, first published in 1901 and frequently reprinted since).

[Feb 9 2004]

[Page 110, verse heading] The title “The Prodigal Son” suggests this is a parody of the Parable of the Prodigal Son in the New Testament of the Christian Bible.

[Page 110, line 4] sib short for sibling, thus 'sib to' means 'blood-related to'.

[Page 110, main text, line 7] Only the devils “Only the devils and the English walk to and fro without reason.” [cf Page 330, line 3] “. . .and we walk as though we were mad — or English.” Kipling forestalled Noel Coward’s “Mad dogs and Englishmen”.

[Page 112, line 5] the sheen of brass applies to military brass.

[Page 113, line 10] ferashes [farashes] a “menial servant whose proper business is to spread carpets, pitch tents, etc.” [Hobson-Jobson]

[Page 113, line 22] crest of the Mavericks Mason in the ORG points out: “No actual regiment had as its crest a red bull on a green background; the nearest was the Connaught Rangers with an elephant on the camp marking flags and green facings on their red coats. . .” He suggests that to avoid criticism, Kipling did not want to be precise in description of a serving unit. “It was only too likely that when he was living in America he was told, or reminded, of the cattle of Samuel Maverick in Texas and from them had decided to give the regiment a bull for their crest. . .”

[Page 114, line 21] the tune “this was composed in 1872 by Edward Harrigan and David Braham, a violinist, and first sung in public by the former in Chicago in 1875. Its title was "The Mulligan Guards".It spread to New York, England, Paris and Vienna, where it was embodied in a comic opera called "The Beggar Student" (by Millöcker and W.B. Kingston: at the Alhambra. London, 12th April, 1884)." Mason goes on to say that although Kipling may have heard the tune played in India by a Military band, there was no such regiment as the Mulligan Guards.

[Page 119, line 8] Choor ? Mallum ? Choor means 'thief', and mallum? 'do you know?' or 'do you know what I mean?' “His [Bennett’s] Hindustani”, Kipling explains, “was very limited. . .”

[Page 119, line 24] scapular a badge of affiliation to a sect or religious order.

[Page 120, line 13] Scarlet Woman Biblical allusion from the Book of Revelation, and said, derogatorily by Protestants, as referring to The Roman Catholic Church.

[Page 120, line 21] hit me kicks Kim is thinking in Hindi and translating his thoughts into English, while maintaining the construction of a Hindi phrase meaning “kicks, that’s all the thanks I get!” Also used figuratively. [lat marna: lat meaning 'kick', and marna, 'hit']

[Page 121, line 26] Rishti ke of the Irish, as Kim explains. [ke means 'of']

[Page 122, line 26] kabbari shop rag and bone shop that sells second-hand goods.

[Page 123, line 17] pukka A flexible Hindi word, severally meaning: solid, firm, hard, cooked, first-rate, complete, dependable. [Now adopted into the English language.]

[Page 124, line 16] uncurried donkeys Not Indianised, not domiciled. The accuracy of Kim’s intuition is confirmed by Bennett’s remark [Page 125]: that “one can never fathom the Oriental mind”, which is not to say he is wrong, just “uninterested”.

[Page 124, line 26] triple-ringed uninterest Thrice bound ignorance. Here is evidence of Kipling’s multicultural, non-racist, non-partisan outlook. His peculiar and, therefore, deliberate choice of “uninterest” is nearer a “shutting out” than “disinterest”, made clearer by the way he ends with the clause: “that lumps nine-tenths of the world”.

[Page 125, line 9] Secretary to the Regimental Lodge The Regiment could lay claim to the Masonic Hall in Lahore, as it would be open to members of the craft in the Army. As Army Chaplain, Bennett would be elected a “Secretary”. It is interesting that although Kipling was a mason manqué, his portrait of Bennett is drawn with less sympathy than Father Victor, bearing in mind that Roman Catholicism was at the time even more deeply suspicious of Freemasonry than it is today.

[Page 127, line 21] kismet Fate, destiny. This is an Urdu word, so it was not one that a Tibetan lama would be expected to know. [Did Horatio Nelson say “Kismet Hardy” and not “Kiss me, Hardy”? Personally I do not subscribe to that story; Ed.]

[Page 128, line 10] Rajputni feminine of Rajput, a Rajput woman.

[Page 131, line 19] wise to the confessional with his practised experience of the confessional Father Victor is acutely tuned to hear “the pain in every sentence.”

[Page 132, line 24] Gorah-log This means 'fair-people'. gora [not to be confused with ghora, which means 'horse'] is 'fair', and log [pr. low’g, with the g sounding like a soft k] means 'people' or 'folk'.

[Page 133, line 22] Military Orphanage this, according to Mason, would have been the Lawrence Military Aslyum at Kasauli between Ambala [Umballa] and Simla.

[Page 133, line 26] St Xavier’s St Xavier, the Spaniard and Jesuit Apostle of the East Indies, died in China, in 1552, and was canonised in 1621. His body, brought to Goa, India, for burial, was found, miraculously, to be in a good state of preservation, and put on display in a show-case casket for many years. Many Catholic schools in India bear his name. Kipling would have known the one in Bombay. The location of Kim’s school is that of the La Martiniere School in Lucknow today.