Mini was a little girl, who was unusually fond of conversations. She had a makeshift mind that moved between various topics within her scope. Although she was young, she could start a conversation with people double or even triple her age.
Eventually she became friends with Rahamat, an Afghani money lender, whom she fondly called Kabuliwala. It was a delight to watch the two banter. Rahamat, was a tall, bearded man, who carried a sack on his shoulders while Mini was a tiny little girl who would chatter all the way. Initially Mini, was afraid of interacting with him, because she believed that Rahamat abducted little children in his sack. But Rahamat, because of his obvious fondness for the little girl, broke the ice, by presenting some raisins and apricots from his bag.
Mini came from an aristocratic Bengali family and Rahamat was just an ordinary fruit peddler from Kabul yet it seemed like they were close chums. The two friends had a few stock phrases and jokes which were repeated in their conversations. For example, the moment she saw Rahamat, she would ask with a hearty laugh, ‘Kabuliwala, O Kabuliwala, what is in your sack?’ Adding an unnecessary nasal tone to the word, Rahamat would roar, ‘Hanti.’ The essence of the joke was that the man had an elephant in his sack. Not that the joke was very witty, but it caused the two friends to double up in laughter, and the sight of that innocent joy between a little girl and a grown man on autumn mornings used to move Mini’s father deeply.
However Mini’s mother wasn’t too pleased with the growing friendship between Rahamat and her daughter and often nagged Mini’s father to keep an eye on him. One fine day, her worries came true; when Rahamat was arrested on charges of stabbing a man because the man had denied the debt he owed Rahamat, in the heat of the argument.
Rahamat was in the midst of hurling abuse in an obscene language at the dishonest man when Mini came running out of the house,...
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