book review kabuliwala

Books and blues

Book reviews, bookish things, pen, stories and blues by aarti athavle, book review: the cabuliwallah (rabindranath tagore)..

  • by Aarti Athavle
  • Posted on June 12, 2022 June 11, 2023

It’s been so long since I read short stories written by Rabindranath Tagore. Growing up these stories were a part of our textbooks. Reading The Cabuliwallah was a nostalgic experience for sure, but it reminded me why these stories are classics.

book review kabuliwala

The Cabuliwallah is a short story is about an unlikely friendship that forms between a dry fruit peddler Abdur Rahman, and Mini, a five-year-old girl. Rahman comes to Calcutta from Kabul to sell his goods. Mini lives with her parents in the city, her father is the narrator of the story. Mini is a little shy in front of Rahman upon first meeting him, but they go on to form a sweet wholesome bond. Rahman is arrested for beating a man who refused to pay his debts to him and spends years in jail. As Mini grows up, she forgets about him. He comes back to meet her once he is released which is on Mini’s wedding day.

The story is narrated from the perspective of Mini’s father. There is a clear class difference shown between Abdur Rahman and the narrator’s family. In the beginning, the narrator is almost indifferent to Rahman, casually aware of their places in society. He sees the friendship developing between Rahman and Mini, how Rahman handles Mini’s questions and engages her. It is when Rahman comes back from jail to see Mini again he realizes that Rahman, too, has a daughter back in Kabul of Mini’s age and Mini reminded him of her.

There is a connection between them despite the difference, both are fathers. They understand each other’s plight. Mini is getting married and will leave her parents’ house and then won’t be a part of their life in the same way ever again. On the other hand, Rahman has missed so much time with his daughter, and he needs to start to build a relationship with her all over again. Another instance of this theme is the friendship between Rahman and Mini.

Mini grows up, and her equations with people change including with her father, and she forgets about the Cabuliwallah. This shows how human emotions and relationships change with time; it is one of the most prominent things I noticed while reading. As a young child, Mini loved spending time with her father, it didn’t matter what they were going to do. But, when she grows up, she has her girlfriends and her life, and now she is getting married.  For Rahman, being in prison is like time being frozen. He hopes or expects that things will be the same when he gets out, but tragically, that’s not the case.

 I feel like the way the situation ends up being for Rahman, in the end, is so sad. He has lost all this time, waiting to get out and get back to his life, but life has moved on. He has to start from scratch. The story is straightforward in its premise but it deals with complex human emotions. The way the story is written tugs at your heartstrings. It does a beautiful job capturing the time of a pre-independent India. It is minimalistic, but it is heartfelt and deep.

I am so glad I downloaded a copy of these short stories. I forgot how much I used to enjoy reading them, though I didn’t understand the complexities in them back then. But, I loved reading The Cabuliwallah by Rabindranath Tagore. It is a story everyone must read at least once.

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Author: Aarti Athavle

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Book Review, Kabuli Wala, story by Tagore, Review by Ranu

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So far I read twenty books for the 2016 Reading Challenge.

Today it gives me pleasure to write a review of my favourite author, Tagore’s story Kabuli Wala.

Rehmat came all the way from Afghanistan to a community in Bengal, to earn money. Times were difficult back home so he and some of his friends went to Bengal to earn their living by selling shawls and some nuts and raisins.

Rehmat was a very honest man, he was simple and trusted every one he met. He let them have the shawl and nuts, even if they couldn’t pay on the understanding they would give the money at a later date.

Some  people cheated him they claimed they did not owe anything to the Kabuliwala ( Rehmat) and that he  was lying.

During this time he met a little girl named Mini, he called her Khuki(a child). Mini and the Kabuliwala became good friends, he’d give her nuts and raisins free and the two played some simple games.

The maid servant of Mini’s parents, was very suspicious, she told the mother that Kabuliwala will take her daughter away and sell her. At first the mother did not pay attention, but the maid convinced her it was true. This created a misunderstanding, the mother refused to let her daughter see the nice man.

Kabuliwala actually had a daughter Mini’s age. He felt better interacting with his little friend, who was so much like Rabeya his daughter.

Tagore’s portrayal of Kabuliwala and the little girl Mini was excellent.

The message I get from the story is we humans have a tendency to suspect someone who is different from us, especially if they are poor speak a different language, we think they should not be trusted.

The father liked the man but the mother did not. It took the mother a long time to realize how innocent the man was. She showed it by giving him the money she saved for her daughter,Mini’s wedding ceremony.

Kabuli Wala went to see Mini before he left to go back to his home in Afghanistan, it was tough for him to see his little friend had grown up.

It made him realize he missed seeing his own daughter growing up.

Tagore loved the poor people regardless of where they came from, he used to move around with them whenever he went to take care of his family’s lands.

………………………………….. 🙂

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6 thoughts on “ book review, kabuli wala, story by tagore, review by ranu ”.

I have very much enjoyed this book review. Thanks so much for sharing it :).

All good wishes,

Dear Robert, Thank you so much for your awesome comment. 🙂

My dearest sister,

Thank you very much for this review 🙂 . I read this story in Urdu translation a long time back and had found it very touching. Your review has brought back all those memories plus a few points about the message of the story.

Thanks again for this treat.

Thank you so much for your comment. 🙂

dear ranu, I really appreciate your review as it almost touched my heart.

Thank you for your wonderful comment Alan. I’m very pleased to know you liked it. 🙂

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Posted by Tanisha Kumari 3 years, 3 months ago

Gaurav Seth 3 years, 3 months ago

The story The Kabuliwala is narrated by the father of a five-year-old Mini. The talkative and innocent Mini and Rahamat, a hawker of dry fruits from Kabul, are the central characters of the story.  One morning Mini saw a Kabuliwala through her window and called out to him. He was a tall, untidily dressed man with a turban on his head and a bag slung over his shoulder. As soon as the Kabuliwala drew close the house, Mini ran and vanished inside.  Her father bought some dry fruits and chatted with him and came to know of him and his family at Kabul. Then he called Mini and introduced her to Rahamat, the Kabuliwala so that she would shed her fear of the Kabuliwala. Rahamat gave Mini some dry fruits from his bag. Later Mini’s father found that his daughter and Kabuliwala had struck up a happy relationship, and the two of them met practically every day. The Kabuliwala was a patient listener to Mini’s tittle-tattle and also gave her loads of nuts and raisins. The Kabuliwala entertained Mini with stories of his motherland.  Mini’s mother, Rama, was against the growing companionship between her daughter and the Kabuliwala and feared he would kidnap Mini one day and sell her off as a slave.  All of a sudden disaster struck the Kabuliwala. He was arrested and sentenced to several years of incarceration for stabbing one of his customers who owed him money. After his release from the jail, the Kabuliwala went to Mini’s house to meet her. However, He found that Mini had grown up, and it was her wedding day.   Mini’s father was not happy to see the Kabuliwala on that day and considered it inauspicious to let him see Mini. He persuaded the Kabuliwala to go away. Before going away, the Kabuliwala left a few grapes and raisins for Mini.  He then showed Mini’s father a tatty piece of paper with a charcoal print of a tiny hand. It was his daughter’s. Filled with pity for the Kabuliwala, Mini’s father called Mini. When the Kabuliwala saw Mini in her bridal dress, he was surprised to find a young woman he could not recognise. Mini was embarrassed when she thought of their long-forgotten companionship and shied away. The Kabuliwala found it extremely difficult to reconcile with the reality.  Seeing the predicament of the Kabuliwala, Mini’s father offered him enough money to return to Kabul to join up with his daughter. Even though he had to cut down some of the wedding celebrations, he was contented with his humanistic gesture to a distressed fat

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book review kabuliwala

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Kabuliwala Tagore, Rabindranath Paperback – December 1, 2012

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  • Print length 16 pages
  • Language English
  • Publisher Rajpal and Sons
  • Publication date December 1, 2012
  • Dimensions 7.99 x 10 x 1.85 inches
  • ISBN-10 9350641550
  • ISBN-13 978-9350641552
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  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Rajpal and Sons (December 1, 2012)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 16 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 9350641550
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9350641552
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 0.6 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 7.99 x 10 x 1.85 inches
  • Best Sellers Rank: #1,791,027 in Books ( See Top 100 in Books )

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Kabuliwala (1961)

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