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Kabuliwala – Stories by Rabindranath Tagore (3)

Kabuliwala - Stories by Rabindranath Tagore

Kabuliwala … O kabuliwala. These calls of a little girl to her older Pathan friend keep echoing in mind even after the episode is over.

The story of ‘Kabuliwala’ moves on from the previous story ‘Detective’ when Mahim signs the releasing papers of Rehman, who had been serving a sentence on account of murder. An Afghani Pathan, Rehman had come from his trouble stricken country to earn a decent income by trading dry fruits, shawls, etc. He befriends a little girl, an author’s daughter, whom he lovingly calls as Kuki. The father of the girl is amused by this unique friendship between the little one, who chatters non-stop, and her Kabuliwala, who has a patient ear for all stories of the little one and who whole-heartedly joins her in her little girly games. Although, the girl’s mother is enraged about the increasing presence of a stranger in her daughter’s life, the father assures her that he is up to no harm.

Kabuliwala often teases his kuki about her going to her in-laws home, to which she would reply that she wouldn’t go anywhKabuliwala2ere and that the Pathan should go his in-laws’ home instead. Of course, she wouldn’t know that the term ‘going to in-laws’ home’ is also synonymous to ‘going to jail’. Quite an irony it is when all of a sudden, after a tiff with a customer about payments which leads to his murder, the Pathan is taken away by the police to be sent to jail. On the way, when Mini asks where he was going, he replies that he is going to his in-laws home.

Now, after coming out of jail, Rehman proceeds towards Mini’s house to meet his kuki. He is unaware that it is her marriage day. Mini’s father, though reluctant initially to let him meet Mini because of the rituals, soon agrees when he learns that Mini reminded Rehman of his own daughter whom he left years ago in his country. Upon seeing Mini, now all grown up and in a bridal attire, Rehman breaks down as she is not his little kuki anymore and a realisation dawns on him that his daughter, Sana, too would have grown up and is of a marriageable age. Soon, Mini’s father gives Rehman some money and asks him to go to his country to meet his daughter. As the Pathan walks away, blessing Mini and with hopes of seeing his daughter after so many years, the story of Kabuliwala ends.

One of the most popular and eagerly awaited Tagore stories, Kabuliwala has been beautifully woven on screen with some endearing music and outstanding acting by Mushtaq Kak as the Kabuliwala, Bobby Parvez as the girl’s father and the cutest wonder on television who became popular as Pihu, Amrita Mukherjee as Mini. It is a delight to watch the actors live their part so beautifully on screen. The highlight of the story is the cute scene between Kabuliwala and his kuki where they play a game of going slowly forward and backward, trying to appease each other. This version of Kabuliwala is a treat to watch.

 

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