31 pages 1 hour read

Rabindranath Tagore


Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1892

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The Transcendental Quality of Human Connections

Set in the vibrant and diverse city of Calcutta, “The Cabuliwallah” portrays the clash of cultures through the characters of Rahmun, the titular character, and the Bengali residents of the city. Rahmun, hailing from Afghanistan, seems foreign to the characters in the story. His distinctive appearance, traditional attire, and imposing physique immediately sets him apart from the local Bengali population. Furthermore, his limited knowledge of the Bengali language accentuates the linguistic and cultural barriers that separate him from the people of Calcutta. These elements serve as a reminder of the cultural divide that exists within the city's multicultural landscape.

Mini, the young daughter of the story's narrator, initially responds to Rahmun with a mixture of curiosity and fear. Her innocent imagination leads her to believe that Rahmun might be "carrying children inside his bag" (5), a misunderstanding that highlights the childlike perception of an individual who appears markedly different from the people in her surroundings. However, as the narrative develops, Mini's curiosity gradually supersedes her fear, and she begins to engage with Rahmun on a more personal level.

The story's climax occurs when a quarrel between Rahmun and a debtor escalates into violence, resulting in Rahmun's imprisonment.