This picaresque novel by Rudyard Kipling was first published in 1901. It is the story of Kimball O’Hara who is an Irish orphan, a vagabond running free in the streets of India. As a boy, he shows self-reliance and resourcefulness, running errands for Mahbub Ali, a horse trader who works for the British Secret Service. Kim also befriends an aged Tibetan lama who is on a quest to free himself from the Wheel of Life by finding the legendary ‘River of the Arrow. ” Kim becomes his disciple and accompanies him on his journey and together they have wonderful adventures on the exotically colourful Grand Trunk Road through the Indian countryside.
Kim is then pulled into the Great Game of British imperial espionage and becomes a member of the Secret Service, even capturing documents from the enemy spies. Yet Kim is greatly attached to the lama and begins to feel the conflicting pulls between a life of contemplation and one of action and we are left to wonder whether Kim will henceforth follow the prideful road of the Great Game, the spiritual way of Tibetan Buddhism or a combination of the two. Kim himself has this to say: I am not a Sahib. I am thy chela. ”