Saturday, December 24, 2011

Kabuliwallah Stories - Rabindranath Tagore

I'll be honest, the only reason I bought the book was because of the story which is the centerpiece of this collection: Kabuliwallah. Anybody who has read it or seen either the Bengali or the Hindi film adaptation will understand the emotional tug that the story has.

Kabuliwallah tells the tale of a migrant trader from Kabul who befriends a little girl in Calcutta. The mismatch is most accentuated by their physical appearance: the dainty 5 year old Mini, a non-stop little motor-mouth who has a question ready for everyone she meets and the giant Afghan trader in his huge robes, carrying a giant sack on his shoulder, bemused by this little girl's frankness and jovial nature.

But this book does have other short stories worth mentioning too.

The Living and the Dead is the unfortunate story of a widow who must prove to the world that she isn't dead yet herself. Skeleton is a fun ghost tale that has been thrown into the mix. Fury Appeased is the tale of a beautiful wife who must deal with her husband's negligence in her own way. Guest is a wonderful story about a young man and how he doesn't wish to be tied down to the world's understanding of love. The character of Tarapada, a pleasant young man who strangely moves away from all relationships which tend to hold him back, reminded me somehow of Krishna. Wishes Granted is a funny little story of a father and son wishing that their roles be reversed and kaboom, it so happens that a Goddess decides to grant their wishes. The hillarious results which follow form the rest of the story. The Hungry Stones is another ghost story with a slightly unconventional end. The Gift of Sight is about the insecurities and the tribulations of a woman who loses her eyesight because her husband's negligence.

All in all, a decent book to read if you don't mind sad endings.


Bubblegum.... said...

I have read it in Gujarati!! :) Lovely book!!

Shekhar said...

Yeah.. I'm sure years from now when I read it again, the stories will bring on a smile. :)