Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Thursday, August 15, 2013

"Cabuliwallah" by Rabindranath Tagore (1938)

Tagore (1861 to 1941) was born in Calcutta,  Indian into a family whose wealth and life style can now only be seen in movies.    His father owned an estate so huge that at one point in his life Tagore traveled through it on a luxurious barge and was met on the river bank by tenants paying token rents to him.   Tagore was raised mostly by servants as his mother died young and his father was very busy administrating the vast estates he owned.   Tagore was educated in classical Indian literature and at age eight began to write poetry and ended up reshaping the Bengali Language.   Later in his life he founded a school and devoted himself entirely to his writing and teachings.   His moral authority became so great that he was able to write the national anthems of both India and Bangladesh, give Gandhi the title of Mahatma (teacher),  and  had a status as a moral leader on a par with  Gandi.   He traveled to the west and met William Butler Yeats, Ezra Pound and other notable literary figures.   This was in a period when western writers were fascinated by Indian thinkers. Yeats wrote the preface for one of his first translated into English books. He wrote largely in Bengali.   His body of work is a great literary treasure.   He was a Hindu Bengali.   He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, the first Asian winner and the only winner Indian author to win one to date. 

I have previously posted on ten of his delightful short stories.  In addition to being a deeply wise man, Einstein enjoyed discussing metaphysics with him and Gandhi came to him for moral advise, he was a great story teller.  Yesterday I decided it was a good day to read another one of his stories.

"Cubiliwallah" is narrated in the first person by a man writing a novel.   In his description of the novel in progress Tagore seems to be having some gentle fun at his own expense when he describes a ready for Bollywood epic of ancient heroes.   His work is interrupted often by his five year old daughter who loves talking.   A Cubiliwallah goes door to door selling fruits and vegetables.   They have among reputation as kidnappers of children so at first the family is alarmed when the daughter, Mimi, and the Cubiliwallah become good friends.   They always chat a long time whenever he stops to sell his goods. 
One day the Cubiliwallah got into a terrible fight with a customer who refused to pay him.  He ends up going to jail for eight years as the other man was severely injured.  I hate to spoil the very moving ending of this story so I won't.  

Mel u

No comments: