(One morning when narrator is in the midst of the seventeenth chapter of his new novel, his 5 years old daughter Mini enters into the room) MINI —Father! Ramdayal the door-keeper calls a crow a krow! He doesn’t know anything, does he?” NARRATOR— Do you know the differences of languages in the world? (Before the narrator could explain to her the differences of language in this world, Mini comes out with another question). MINI—What do you think, Father? Bhola says there is an elephant in the clouds, blowing water out of his trunk, and that is why it rains! (While the narrator sat still making ready some reply to this last saying, Mini puts another question) MINI—Father! What relation is Mother to you?
NARRATOR—My dear little sister in the law! (Murmures involuntarily to himself) Go and play with Bhola, Mini! I am busy! SCENE 2 :::
(The window of narrator’s room overlooks the road. The child has seated herself at narrator’s feet near his table, and is playing softly, drumming on her knees. Narrator is hard at work on his seventeenth chapter, where Protrap Singh, the hero, has just caught Kanchanmala, the heroine, in his arms, and is about to escape with her by the third story window of the castle when all of a sudden Mini leaves her play, and runs to the window) NARRATOR— Ah! (feels a sigh of relief)
MINI —Kabuliwala O kabuliwala ( Shouts )
(In the street below is a kabuliwala, passing slowly along. He has worn the loose soiled clothing of his people, with a tall turban; there is a bag on his back, and he carries boxes of grapes in his hand.) NARRATOR— He will come in, and my seventeenth chapter will never be finished! (The Cabuliwallah turned, and looked up at the child. When she saw this, overcome by terror, she fled to her mother’s protection, and disappeared.She had a blind belief that inside the bag, which the big man carried, there were perhaps two or three other children like herself)
(The pedlar enters narrator’s doorway, and greets him with a smiling face.) NARRATOR—So precarious is the position of my hero and my heroine, that my first impulse was to stop and buy something (Since the man had been called narrator made some small purchases, and a conversation began about Abdurrahman, the Russians, the English, and the Frontier Policy) KABULIWALA—And where is the little girl, sir?
NARRATOR— Mini must get rid of her false fear(Says to himself) (Mini stood by narrator’s chair, and looked at the Cabuliwallah and his bag) KABULIWALA—( offered her nuts and raisins)
(One morning, however, not many days later, as narrator is leaving the house, he is startled to find Mini, seated on a bench near the door, laughing and talking, with the great Cabuliwallah at her feet) NARRATOR—Why did you give her those? (taking out an eight-anna bit, narrator handed it to him.) (AFTER SOME TIME WHEN NARRATOR RETURNS)
(Cabuliwallah had given the coin that narrator pays him, to Mini, and her mother catches sight of the bright round object) MINI’S MOTHER—Where did you get that eight-anna bit?
MINI—The Cabuliwallah gave it me
MINI’S MOTHER—The Cabuliwallah gave it you! Oh, Mini! how could you take it from him? (NARRATOR ENTERS) (Narrator saved her from her mother’s scoldings)
(It was not the first or second time that the two had met.) (They had many quaint jokes, which afforded them much amusement. MINI—O Cabuliwallah, Cabuliwallah, what have you got in your bag? KABULIWALA—An elephant!
(Not much cause for merriment, perhaps they both enjoyed the witticism!) KABULIWALA—Well, little one, and when are you going to the father-in-law’s house? MINI—Are you going there?
(Amongst men of the Cabuliwallah’s class, however, it is well known that the words father-in-law’s house have a double meaning. It is a euphemism for jail, the place where we are well cared for, at no expense to ourselves.) KABULIWALA—Ah, I will thrash my father-in-law! ( Hearing this Mini would go off into peals of laughter) SCENE 5
(One morning narrator hears an uproar in the street, and, looking out, saw Rahmun being led away bound between two policemen, and behind them a crowd of curious boys. There were blood-stains on the clothes of the Cabuliwallah, and one of the policemen carried a knife.) NARRATOR—(Hurrying out and stopping them) What does it all mean?
POLICEMEN—A certain neighbour had owed the pedlar something for a Rampuri shawl, but had falsely denied having bought it, and that in the course of the quarrel, Rahmun had struck him. (Mini enters the scene)
MINI—O Cabuliwallah! Cabuliwallah!
KABULIWALA—(turns to her but says nothing)
MINI—Are you going to the father-in-law’s house?
KABULIWALA—(laughing)Just where I am going, little one!
MINI—(Does not appear to be ammused)
KABULIWALA—I would have thrashed that old father-in-law, but my hands are bound! SCENE 6
(Rahmun is sent to jail for several years. Years passed and it came the day of mini’s wedding.There is a lot of hubbub due to wedding occasion.Sudddenly rahmun enters) NARRATOR—When did you come, Rahmun?
KABULIWALA— I was released from jail last evening
NARRATOR—There are ceremonies going on and I am busy. Could you perhaps come another day? KABULIWALA—(Hesitatingly)May I not see the little one, sir, for a moment? ( It was his belief that Mini was still the same.)
NARRATOR—There is a ceremony in the house, and you will not be able to see any one to-day. KABULIWALA—I brought these few things, sir, for the little one. Will you give them to her? NARRATOR—(takes the fruit from him and is about to pay him some money) KABULIWALA—(holding narrator’s hand) You are very kind, sir! Keep me in your recollection. Do not offer me money!-You have a little girl, I too have one like her in my own home. I think of her, and bring fruits to your child, not to make a profit for myself. (Saying this, he put his hand inside his big loose robe, and brings out a small and dirty piece of paper. It bore the impression of a little band. The impression of an ink-smeared hand laid flat on the paper.
This touch of his own little daughter had been always on his heart, as he had come year after year to Calcutta, to sell his wares in the streets.) (Tears come to narrator’s eye and he sends for Mini immediately from the inner apartment.) (MINI ENTERS) KABULIWALA—Little one, are you going to your father-in-law’s house? MINI—( Remains quiet and flushes up at the question, and stands before him with her bride-like face turned down.) NARRATOR—(Gives him some money)Go back to your own daughter, Rahmun, in your own country, and may the happiness of your meeting bring good fortune to my child! (Having made this present, the narrator had to curtail some of the festivities. he could not have the electric lights he had intended, nor the military band, and the ladies of the house were despondent at it. But to narrator the wedding feast was all the brighter for the thought that in a distant land a long-lost father met again with his only child.) (KABULIWALA LEAVES)