Narrator: In the city of Calcutta, a long time ago,
Lived an ardent writer.
(This story is not about him though)
The writer had a daughter, a sprightly little thing.
Her voice was musical, her laughter like spring…
Mini, her name was, the apple of his eyes,
Not silent a minute, filled with wonder and surprise.
She talked on and on, about everything under the sun,
And he listened patiently, until she was done.
Scene: Inside a study. Baba is writing while Mini is hopping around and talking. There’s a window through which we can see a street.
Mini: Baba ---
Why does the sun sleep at night?
Do the moon and the stars ever fight?
When the crow sings, does the cuckoo laugh?
Why is oil slippery? Why is sand so rough?
You know my friends? We all love to sing!
And my friend Moni, why she doesn’t know a thing!
She says it’s not the lake, but the sky that’s blue.
Tell me Baba, is that really true?
(stops suddenly and stares at the wall)
If these walls could speak, what would they say?
Would they tell stories of your childhood days?
Do they laugh with us, Baba, when we do?
And if they see us cry, do they cry too?
Baba: Mini, my Mini, you do talk a lot.
My quiet one, you most certainly are not.
Be good, little one, do let me write.
My hero and villain are in the middle of a fight.
Mini: A fight you say Baba? What sort of a fight?
Does the hero kill the villain with all his might?
Tell me, do you ever write about me?
About a pretty little girl, called Mini?
You know what Bhola said again?
That an elephant in the clouds makes it rain!
Out of his trunk, the elephant blows water,
Oh Baba, I almost died out of laughter!
Narrator: Mini sat down by her father’s knee,
Playing by herself, singing softly,
When all of a sudden something caught her eyes,
She ran to the window, and loudly cried:
Mini: A Kabuliwallah, a Kabuliwallah!
Look Baba, a Kabuliwallah!
Narrator: Sure enough, in the street below,
Was a Kabuliwallah, his walk steady and slow.
He wore soiled clothes that were a little loose,
A turban on his head, and worn-out shoes.
He carried a bag on his back,
A box of grapes in his hands intact.
All excited, Mini called out with a shout.
The Kabuliwallah turned, and looked about.
Overcome with terror, Mini fled away!
She ran to her mother; Mini wouldn’t stay.
For she had a belief, which was rather blind,
That if one looked into the Kabuliwallah’s bag,
one would find.
Little children like her, trapped inside.
Mini was scared, and she ran to hide.
The Kabuliwala, meanwhile, entered the doorway
He greeted the writer, and stopped to say:
Kabuliwallah: Good sir, would you like to see what I have here?
I have goods galore, from far and from near.
Narrator: The writer didn’t really want to,
but thought it would be rude,
To refuse to buy something,
and so he said he would.
They made small talk about the Russian
and the Frontier Policy.
But just as he was about to leave,
the Kabuliwallah asked after Mini.
Kabuliwallah: Where is the little girl, Sir, who called out my name?
I heard her voice, and that’s why I came.
Narrator: The writer thought to himself, that Mini needed to,
Get over her false fear, and he knew what to do.
He had her brought out, and Mini came back.
She stood by his chair, looking at the Kabuliwallah’s sack.
The Kabuliwallah offered her nuts and raisins,
Mini stood rooted. For once she had no questions.
She wasn’t tempted, she clung to her father.
She didn’t say a word, her doubts increased further.
And that is how their first meeting ended,
The Kabuliwallah eager, and Mini a little daunted.