blog 304: the taste of a fish monger’s wife

June 5th
Hobson is plunging into spying like a fish to water. For all of his ‘MI 1 is an oxymoron’ quip he is gathering up spies and infiltrating Delhi despite being camped inside a burned out bungalow on the Ridge and with mutineers guarding every fucking city gate! Cannot say the names. But Hobson! Spy Master! Yes. You have found your calling at last!
Late telegraph from Jaunpur, Sikhs mutinying. My Sikhs order the telegraphic operator to recant such heresy. Everyone shivers with horror. If the Sikhs mutiny then we are doomed.

Late telegraph. Sikhs in Jaunpur mutinied after hearing report of Sikhs shot in Benares in crossfire. Sikh commander negotiating with mutineers.
Later telegraph from MI 1 ‘Shut up about the Sikhs mutinying in Jaunpur.’ We dutifully shut up. What the fuck does it mean. Brother # 2 nods. “MI 1 had never been able to plant Sikh spies before. This is a breathtaking opportunity to plant double agents.”

“If it is real” I replied. “But if it is not real then your ‘double agents’ will be shooting us in our collective arse when we reach Delhi!”

“Sikhs will not joint their historic enemy” Brother # 2 replied blandly. “Never. Never. Never. They remember their history while sepoys negate their history. And the Wahhbists have already declared Sikhs to be ‘kafirs’ to be exterminated. Like Christians and Jews, the Sikhs are seen as wilfully defying and denying the self- evident divine truth of Islam in a way far more evil than the mere pagan Shirks who are merely ‘blind and ignorant’ to the self evident divine truth of Islam. Kafirs are hated because Kafirs should know better yet wilfully defy Islam all the more forcefully even as more and more force is used against them. This refusal to convert to Islam is thus seen as far more fundamentally dangerous to Islam than pagan Shirks who are seen by Muslims as mere superstitious children. The Garuda and the Naga are supernatural nemeses who must always war to the death. The Sikhs and the Muslims are likewise nemeses who must always war to the death.”

I met John Lawrence and we naturally quarreled face to face. Unspoken is Henry. I blame John Lawrence for stabbing Henry in the back and climbing over Henry’s all but dead body to seize his job. Henry was shoved into Lucknow and a certain death because of John Lawrence. But naturally we could not speak of this. So we quarreled about Peshawar and John’s threat to abandon it to Dost of Kabul to buy off that madman opening a second front. In the end he never briefed me at all. I waited for the prig to fire me. John Lawrence is such an old woman. Fussy. Pompous. And backstabbing. But he just snorted. “If you fight the enemy half as well as you fight me then Delhi will be fallen in a week of your arrival! You more than live up to your boast of Right Royal Bastard. Whatever happens you deserve it.”

“As in you are firing me?”

“As in here is the god damn file and you can brief yourself! There are rumors you occasionally show a half way human side. Clearly they are just that! Rumors! Get out! Go kill some mutineers!”

“Fine! I will — while you kill your brother Henry whom I love as a father!”

I stormed out like a prat. “God damn it!” I yelled to Son # 2. “Now I have to write a fucking letter of apology!” I grabbed my black ruler and wacked myself with it. Son # 2 slid over a prepared letter ready for my signature. ‘I forgot before starting to say one or two things I had omitted saying. One is to thank you for my appointment. I know you recommenced on public grounds but I do not feel the less obliged to you. Another was to tell you I have dismissed old grievances, whether real or imaginary, from my mind, and, as far as I am concerned, bygones are bygones. In return I would ask you not to judge me too over-hastily or harshly.’

I contritely wrote my name to the bottom. “But he will still say I am a study in violence! Balderdash! I am a scientific study in violence god damn it!” I said. “Where is my Gandhara Buddha I just bought?”

“Atonement” Son # 2 explained. “Going with the apology. So John Lawrence can see the other side of you. And he has always prissily harped on the fact you bought Henry Lawrence a lovely piece of Gandhara art to match the lovely piece of Indian pornography you first gave him and you never gave John Lawrence anything but an ulcer.”

“John Lawrence will own my Buddha Head!”

“Atonement” Son # 2 said. “The Buddha would say you need to atone with a gesture of genuine pain.”

“But I could have stopped off at any roadside dump and bought a piece of crap! John Lawrence as the taste of an Irish fish monger!”


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