Confessions of a thug
New Illustrated and Annotated Edition With illustrations fromTashrih al-aqvam (an account of origins and occupations of some of the sects, castes, and tribes of India) album byColonel James SkinnerAnd from Collection of pen-and-ink drawings byJ. Lockwood Kipling
A strange page in the book of human life is this! Thought I, as he left the room. That man, the perpetrator of so many hundred murders, thinks on the past with satisfaction and pleasure; nay, he takes a pride in recalling the events of his life, almost every one of which is a murder, and glories in describing the minutest particulars of his victims, and the share he had in their destruction, with scarcely a symptom of remorse! Once or twice only has he winced while telling his fearful story; and what agitated him most at the commencement of his tale I have yet to hear.
Murderers there have been in every country under heaven, from the time of Cain to the present,—murderers from hate, from revenge, from jealousy, from fear, from the instigation of any and every evil passion of our nature; but a murderer‘s life has ever been depicted as one of constant misery - the worm that dieth not, the agony and reproach of a guilty conscience, gnawing at the heart, corroding and blasting every enjoyment oi life, and either causing its wretched victim to end his existence by suicide, to deliver himself up to justice, or to be worn down by mental suffering - a more dreadful fate perhaps than the others. Such are the descriptions we have heard and read of murderers, but these Thugs are unlike any others. a tooth, is the doctrine of his Prophet, which he trembles at while he believes.—And Arneer Ali is a Bhula Admee N0 remorse seems to possess their souls. In the weariness of perpetual imprisonment one would think their imaginations and recollections of the past would be insupportable to them; but no — they eat, drink, and sleep like others, are solicitous about their dress, ever ready to talk over the past, and would, if released tomorrow, again follow their dreadful profession with a fresh zest after their temporary preclusion from it. Strange too that Hindoo and Moslem, of every sect and denomination, should join with one accord in the superstition from which this horrible trade has arisen. In the Hindoo perhaps it is not to be wondered at, as the goddess who protects him is one whom all castes regard with reverence and hold in the utmost dread; but as for the Moslem, unless his conduct springs from that terrible doctrine of Fatalism, with which every true believer is thoroughly imbued from the first dawn of his reason, it is difficult to assign a reason for the horrible pursuit he has engaged in. His Koran denounces murderers. Blood for blood, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for even in the eyes of his jailers; a respectable man, a religious man, one who from his youth up has said his Namaz five times a day, is most devout in his life and conduct, is most particular in his ablutions, keeps the fast of the Ramzan and every saint’s day in his calendar, dresses in green clothes in the Mohorum, and beats his breast and tears his hair as a good Syud of Hindustan ought to do; in short, he performs the thousand and one ceremonies of his religion, and believes himself as sure of heaven and all the houris promised there as he now is of a good dinner.
And yet Ameer Ali is a murderer, one before whom every murderer of the known world, in times past or present …
Reader, these thoughts were passing in my mind, when at last I cried aloud, ‘Pshaw! ’tis vain to attempt to account for it, but Thuggee seems to be the offspring of fatalism and superstition, cherished and perfected by the wildest excitement that ever urged human beings to deeds at which humanity shudders.’
‘Did Khodawund call?’ said a bearer, who had gradually nodded to sleep as he was pulling the punkah above my head, and who was roused by my exclamation. ‘Did the Sahib call?’
‘No, Boodun, I did not; but since you are awake, bid someone bring me a chilum. My nerves require to be composed.’
CONFESSIONS OF A THUG New Illustrated and Annotated Edition
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