What Is the “Cabuliwallah”?

“The Cabuliwallah” is a short story written by Rabindranath Tagore. The story involves the life of a cabuliwallah, a term that refers to a fruit seller from Kabul, named Rahaman. He meets a young girl named Mimi who makes a great impression on him. The story’s main themes are the relationship between a father and daughter and the struggles of adjusting to a new place.

“The Cabuliwallah” begins with a father describing his very curious and talkative daughter, Mimi. The story is interrupted by the arrival of a cabuliwallah. Mimi is initially frightened of the man, believing he is carrying children in the large bag he is holding; however, the man soon gives Mimi some treats, and the two begin a lively discussion. The man returns periodically over time to visit Mimi.

One day, however, the cabuliwallah disappears. The father learns that he became angry when a customer did not pay for a purchase made on credit, and he killed the customer. This event is attributed to the cabuliwallah being frustrated by the customs of Calcutta, a city he has only lived in for a short amount of time.

Years later, the man gets out of jail and returns to visit Mimi. Coincidentally, he arrives on the day she is getting married. Her father speaks with the cabuliwallah and learns that he too has a daughter, but he lost her long ago. Understanding the bond between father and daughter, Mimi’s father warmly welcomes him into the home and gives him money.