THE most difficult part of writing is to know where to begin, just as the most difficult part of speaking is to know where to stop. Nothing is more irritating than a blank sheet of paper staring stupidly into your face when you are bursting to write but cannot make up your mind how to set about it.
I want to talk about the Pathans, the people I love, which makes may task harder than ever. I want you to love them as I do. But the Pathan is not easy to love. He takes a lot of knowing. His is a most complicated simplicity. I want to bring him down from the peaks of Khyber and the fields of Hashtnager face to face with you in his torn clothes and grass shoes, his eyes full of manliness, laughter and the devil, and his head full of a childish and noble pride - the chief camouflage he uses to hide his poverty and want. Yes, I want to bring him to you and make him talk to you - of his struggle and his dreams, of love and feuds, his field and his watch-tower, his new rifle and his old wife.
The undertaking, you will admit, is difficult. No wonder I did not know where to begin. But I have a scheme. I shall make him sing his love-songs to you, so that you may feel the throb of his heart. He will tell you a Pathan fairy tale so ^hat you may listen to what he tells his child. He will tell you a story of an incident in his village so that you may see how he lives. He will talk to you about the moon so that you may know how he loves. He will talk to you about his customs so that you may understand his laws. He will talk of dacoities, raids and duels so that you may know the power that drives him. He will talk to you of priests and magic and charms so that you may know the darkness in his heart. He will talk to you of life and death and right and wrong, and I hope by that time you will know him and after you get to know him I shall butt in and try to talk about him, of his relation to you and his connection with your future. For whether you like it or not he is your neighbour. And on the most unfortunate side of your house - the side that faces Russia. You must know him because Russia will have a lot to say about the shape of things to come. They will come to the Pathan before they come to you.
May I then introduce you to your neighbour! He has a fine turban and intriguing trousers. Let's have a look at him. But before we do that we might as well know something of his race and his origin.