Four Levels of The Cabuliwallah (Rabindranath Tagore):
The main theme of this story ‘ The Cabuliwallah ‘ is to show the readers the essence of the cross-cultural bridge and prejudice they hold about people.
1. Literal Comprehension
The story’s narrator has a 5-year-old daughter named Mini who is a very curious child. She always asks various questions. One day she calls a peddler to her house who happens to be a man selling dry fruits. Even though she was the one who to call the man, the Cabuliwallah, she gets scared because of him thinking he’s carrying children’s head inside his bag. Her father shows her that there are only dry fruits in the bag so she is no more scared. The Cabuliwallah then gives her some dry fruits.
After this day, the little girl and Cabuliwallah start meeting every day and the guy gives her dry fruits, too. Both of them became best of friends; they’d tease each other asking when one will go to their father-in-laws’ house and the next will ask if they’ll go with them, too. Mini’s mother isn’t fond of the man and asks her husband to be aware of him but he just laughs it off.
One morning, the Cabuliwallah is led away by a policeman for stabbing someone. Seeing this Mini asks him if he’s going to his father-in-laws’ house and he replies by saying yes.
Many years have passed and it is time for Mini’s marriage. On the day, the Cabuliwallah comes to meet Mini. The narrator is reluctant at first but later allows him. He sees that Mini has grown so much. He asks her if she is going to her father-in-laws’ house but this time she only blushes and goes away. The Cabuliwallah tells the narrator about his own daughter who might be the same age as Mini. Hearing this, the narrator gives the Cabuliwallah $ 100 and asks him to go back to his country to meet his daughter.
The main theme of this story ‘ The Cabuliwallah ‘ is to show the readers the essence of the cross-cultural bridge and the prejudice they hold about the people.
The little girl Mini is from Bengal and the Cabuliwallah is from Kabul, their cultures have so many differences but also it couldn’t bring any change to their friendship which was built through the bridges of their culture in spite of their differences even in their age and maturity level.
Similarly, this story also throws away the wrong prejudice people have on peddlers. The prejudice that Mini and her mother had on the strangers is shown but their doubt gets cleared on the latter part of the story respectively.
Also, the story also shows the pureness of a child. The innocence that the little girl Mini had before any of the environment around her had affected and molded her.
3. Critical Thinking
This is an amazing story highlighting the friendship between two people who are different from each other in their culture, age and maturity level. But still, there are some parts that aren’t still convincing.
- Why would anyone let their little girl meet some stranger daily?
- Shouldn’t the narrator heed some of the worries of his wife since it concerns his 5-year-old?
- Why does the Cabuliwallah ask the little girl the same question every time they meet?
- The end of the story tries to suggest that the Cabuliwallah is a good man but isn’t the fact that the man just got out of jail for stabbing someone question his goodness? Is that something a good man would do?
This story ‘ The Cabuliwallah ‘ kind of changed my concept about the peddlers. Before reading the story, I also held prejudice about them. Even when I was reading this story, I had a feeling that the Cabuliwallah is the villain and he’s going to do something bad to the little girl. But in the end, he just seems to have his own story as anybody else. This story has taught me not to judge people because of some layers that I see on the outside as clearly shown I’d never know the whole story.
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