The Cabuliwallah - Four Levels | Adventure In English

Rabindranath Tagore (1861 – 1941)

The Cabuliwallah

Literal Comprehension: This story “The Cabuliwallah” was written by a famous Nobel Prize winner, Indian Rabindranath Tagore. Minimum 5 years old daughter of the writer was a very talkative girl and she used to ask many questions to him. One morning, when the writer was writing the 17th chapter of the Nobel, she came into his room and asked some questions. When she saw a peddler walking around the street of her house who was a man from Afghanistan, Kabul, she called him by saying “a Cabuliwallah! a Cabuliwallah”. When Cabuliwallah looked at her and came in the house, she was afraid and went towards her mother because her mother taught her that they would carry children in their bags. The writer came down and introduced with Cabuliwallah to overcome her fear. After that, they started to meet each other and became friends. They used to tease and spend their meeting time talking joking each-other. Cabuliwallah used to tease her telling when she was going to Father-in-law’s home. In that time, she could not understand the meaning. So she also used to tease him by saying when he was going to his father-in-law’s home. Mini’s mother was negative towards Cabuliwallah’s attitude and she was asking the writer to keep a watch full eye on him.

One morning, when Mini saw Cabuliwallah arrested by two policemen in the street, she asked if he was going to his father-in-law’s house. After Mini forgot about Cabuliwallah who was in jail, she became a friend of others. Rahman, Cabuliwallah was released from jail after 8 years. When he was released, he came to Mini’s house by bringing nuts and almonds as a gift to meet his old friend Mini. Mini’s house was decorated and full of the sound of music because Mini’s wedding program was going on. When he asked with the writer to meet Mini, the writer rejected. After seeing the real love of Cabuliwallah who thought Mini like his own daughter Pārbati, the writer let Cabuliwallah meet with Mini. When Cabuliwallah saw Mini in the wedding dress, he became much surprised and he could not talk as before with his old friend. He then asked her if she was going to her father-in-law’s house. Now Mini knew that statement and bowed her head. Mini went inside after meeting. Cabuliwallah sat on the floor and he remembered own daughter Pārbati in Kabul waiting for her father to get married. Tagore gave him Rs. 100 asking to go Kabul to meet with his missed family.

Interpretation: In the story “The Cabuliwallah”, the writer Tagore might be trying to tell us about the friendship between two strangers can’t always be for the desire of marriage. The writer shows that if there is touching and understanding friendship, there can be a real relationship of friendship like Mini and Cabuliwallah, between two persons from different cultures, places, and ages. The romantic also conveys a great humanitarian message because this story shows that either rich or poor, Bengalis or Pathans, Hindus or Muslims, etc., in the final analysis, we all are brothers and sisters because people have gone different places missing a lot their families and friends. So one should not look at others negatively but behave like two brothers and sisters. Again it might also be trying to tell that almost all children are inquisitive, talkative and restless like Mini.

Critical Thinking: Though the story has given the true picture of friendship between a small girl Mini and Cabuliwallah, if we have a broad outlook like that of Mini’s father, we can accept many things in the story; otherwise, we have many questions to ask. Do we allow our children to make a friend to unknown people or foreigners? Can we tolerate the daily presence of unknown people in our home? Do we allow the prisoner to see our daughter at her wedding ceremony? How can there be a truthful relationship between a 5 years child and aged Cabuliwallah? How can we believe that the Cabuliwallah had not lied? Though, the idealistic picture of friendship can be found everywhere in our society.

Assimilation: After reading this story, I completely changed my attitude to door to door sellers. Before reading this story, I used to think such sellers either as cheater or thieves, non-human, etc. There was not any respect towards them. Now I came to realize that the sellers like Cabuliwallah are our brothers or uncles or so on. They have also the heart and they become a seller to feed their children and make their dependent’s future by earning the money. So we should respect them, understand their real condition but not hate them because they are obeying by compulsion being such seller. So many attitudes towards them have completely changed after reading this story.

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