Kim. A strange and beautiful India by Rudyard Kipling

Having been set ‘Kim’, a novel by Rudyard Kipling for my very last Seminar, I was thrilled to find that not only was it completely wonderful, it was also not the pre-emptive and unauthorised biography of the voluptuous Kardashian.

I have found myself feeling nostalgic and nervous in this lead-up to my final academic class. I feel like I should be handing out a school shirt for people to sign. Where’s my leavers book?

Come 4pm today and the start of the seminar, I expect a heavy gravitas to fall upon everything the lecturer says. I have to remember it’s not the last time I learn anything, just the last time I’ll do it in a classroom. With this in mind, you can imagine how much I expected from the last book I would ever be told to read by a teacher.

‘Kim’ didn’t disappoint me.

The novel, which was first published in 1901 is the story of a masterful little street urchin’s adventures through an India on the verge of the modern. The eponymous Kimball O’Hara is the orphaned son of an impoverished white soldier who charms and rules the city streets of Lahore. In pursuit of his own prophesy involving a rampant red bull, Kim joins a Tibetan priest in search of an enchanted river- embarking on a journey which will starkly change the lives of those who meet him.

Kim, ‘friend of all the world’, is race-less and age-less. An Indian Puck who speaks all the languages of India, and whose faiths are many, depending on who he loves in any given moment: Kim follows a Buddhist, was raised a Hindu, wears the turban given him by an Afghan and is forced into Christian schooling.

This book is filled with enough tastes, smells, colours, fabrics, jewels, poverty, spirits and languages to populate India anew. Even in this cosmopolitan, global world, the young protagonist’s ability to leap from class to class, place to place and race to race is unmatched and still astounding.

Enviable. Interesting.

‘Kim’ sent me to a hot, dusty and intense place where the radio and the sewing machine co-existed with prophesy and magic. A world where imperial spies and Pashtun horse dealers dodge assassins and war-talk creeps among bazars. Warrior Sikhs sit beside farmwives and Tibetan priests on train carriages which chug sluggishly to holy waters.

Read it.

My pinterest mood board for Kim can be found here: