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Of all the short-stories of Tagore I have come across so far, my favorite one is "Kabuliwala". I remember faintly of having read it for the first time, sometime when i was still in primary school. I used to wonder with awe about the tender bond of love that developed between the little girl and the Kabuliwala. The man's fatherly love for the little girl, his inability to visit his native and meet his own daughter and the emptiness in his heart after getting released from prison, the realization that his own daughter would be of marriageable age by then etc are all enough to make one teary eyed. No one captures human emotions better than Tagore.
For very long, i had been carrying the little girl of Kabuliwala in my heart. I could visualize the twinkling in her eyes, her innocence, her unadulterated smile. A strange tranquility crept in no matter how many times i read it again and again, oblivious to the fact that one day i might witness that little girl in my life, within the confines of my home.
My daughter, who is two and a half years old is the center of attention of our household. While, we look for joys in big things, she on the other hand derives pleasure from little things of life. While we focus on novelty, she finds happiness in routine things like folding clothes, playing with raw potatoes, utensils etc.
It went unnoticed initially as to how she developed a bond of friendship with our maid, who comes daily for cleaning utensils. Initially, she used to watch her in silence, out of her bouts of "stranger anxiety"'. Part of the problem was language barrier. We speak Hindi and maid speaks Gujarati. Gradually, the bond blossomed and conversations started in half-baked languages of both. Now, the situation is, that the moment the bell rings, my daughter runs towards the door in anticipation and when i tell her, that her friend has come then the mother in me can't miss the twinkling in her eyes. My daughter sometimes insists on having her meal with the maid, to which we don't object.
I shudder at the thought, that the day will come when my little munchkin will be aware about the world view which divides us into caste, colour, creed, religion, economic status. A day would come , perhaps when she would not like to keep this friendship any longer. Perhaps, she will just forget about her "Kabuliwala", oblivious to the fact that what the kabuliwala(our maid) will go through. She will miss the little girl(my daughter) she knew once and i will miss my little girl with twinkling in her eyes.
Unfortunately, i have no answers as to how i can prevent this from happening but the mother in me will try for sure!