SHER KHAN was the son of a weak, pious Khan, who shared a fraction of a village with his many powerful cousins, they all wrestled with one another for power, but no one bothered Sher's father. Being a weakling in this world he was full of ambitions for the next. He wore priestly clothes, exchanged his revolver for a string of rosary beads, and deserted the Bachelors House (Hujra) for the mosque. He mixed up hopelessly his fear of his cousins with his fear of the Lord. The little coward tried to be a big saint and consequently lost his sense of humour. He preached against snuff and smoke, wore an impressive beard and never smiled. He mistook a bad liver for a good soul and his poor wife paid for it. Sher, the child of this pulpy Jelly-fish, was a mountain of strength- the picture of the longings of a strong woman married to a weak man. His father did not dare spank him even when he was very small. At nineteen he was big and powerful and insolent and proud. He treated his weak old father with contempt and his tough little mother with indifference – yet they both worshipped him.
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