cabuliwallah, penned by rabindranath tagore, explores the complexities of human relationships through the story of rahmun and the narrators daughter mini. Rahmun, the cabuliwalla does not belong to Calcutta and is always treated as an outsider . he is subjected to the mistrust , curiosity and suspicion of the locals. mini was initially frightened by the cabuliwallah, rumoured to be a child abductor ,who actually peddled dry fruits and went door to door in the hopes of earning a few bucks for his daughter at home who happens to be as old as mini . mini’s innocence helps break the walls of suspicion around rahmun and within no time she does not only befriend him but also takes to liking the afghan pathan. Rahmun too begins to have a soft spot for mini as she reminded him of his own daughter back home. Rahmun and mini spend a lot of time together talking but mostly laughing. Mini’s father, the narrator is initially wary of rahmun and mini’s budding bond but eventually seems to understand that their relationship seems to stem from something pure and innocent. However, that does not convince mini’s mother who is always on the fence about rahmun’s character. In a bitter turn of events, rahmun ends up going to prison for 10 years leaving mini heartbroken for a while. But 10 years is a long time and the little girl grows up and forgets all about her best friend from Afghanistan. On rahmun’s return things aren’t the same as they were 10 years ago. Mini is getting married and she no longer recognizes the cabuliwallah. Reality strikes hard and rahmun realises that his own daughter too must have grown up as much as mini has and that he has responsibilities waiting for him at home. Empathizing with the cabuliwallah, the narrator hands rahmun some money and tells him to go home and take care of his own family, sacrificing some of the celebrations in his own daughter’s wedding. Tagore has beautifully brought forth the sense of displacement that the Afghan people feel, when they are so far away from their land and amidst an unknown culture. He also depicts how people continue to have a certain innocence about themselves right into adulthood. But most notably, he has reflected upon the nuances of paternal love in a very touching manner. Theme:
A father‟s love for his child is one of the central themes of the story. Cabuliwallah always carried an imprint
of his daug
hter‟s little hand close to his heart which reminds him of a loving touch, as he comes year after year to
Calcutta to sell his wares in the streets. This description of action shows Rahman, the man from Kabul, as a lovingfather. Another theme of the story is friendship. The story shows how to establish a good relationship with the
people you meet. We should stop judging by mere appearance and learn how to look on what‟s within.
Rahmun is displayed with a powerful presence that indicates something underneath the surface. On face value, he is a fruit seller and Tagore describes him in an almost wanderer quality. The impression of him at the first description is that he is one that causes an immediate sense of fear in Mini, the child who is afraid that he captures children and places them in his large bag that he has across his shoulder. Over time, he forges a bond with the little girl. He is committed to seeing her every day, "bribing" her with almonds and raisins. The familiar question that helps to forge the bond between both Rahmun and the girl involves him asking her when she is going to her father in- law's house. The fact that he returns after he was imprisoned and asks the girl the same question on the eve of her marriage helps to allow a fuller understanding of the now aged fruit seller