Rabindranath Tagore, by Suketu Mehta

Here is a piece by Suketu Mehta, the acclaimed writer of Maximum City: Bombay lost and found, published originally in the Time in 1999. We are very grateful to Suketu for letting us add it to our site. In referring to Tagore’s story Kabuliwalah (The fruitseller from Kabul), Mehta writes:

I reread “Kabuliwalah,” his 1892 story about an Afghan merchant’s friendship with a little girl, to find out if it would still affect me the way it did when I last read it, in a school textbook. It is a sentimental story, but it is not melodramatic. Towards the end of the story, the upper-class narrator discovers, through a small picture – a little girl’s handprint, carried across borders as a memento – what he has in common with a murderous Afghan, something that spans the huge distance between them. “I forgot then that he was an Afghan raisin-seller and I was a Bengali Babu. I understood then that he was as I am, that he was a father just as I am a father.” This is what the best of Tagore’s stories do: erase distinctions between the self and the other. There are no real villains in Tagore’s stories, or in his worldview.

Read the essay here.

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Our Tagore events

  • Oct 6, 2012 AUTUMN EXTRAVAGANZA, Michael Power St. Joseph High School, Toronto. A variety show with Tagore’s works, and a multicultural Dance Ensemble with folk dances of Ukraine, Chile, and India.

  • Sep 25, 2012 'Walking Alone: Justice and Inequality in Tagore's thought', talk by Ananya Mukherjee-Reed at Princeton University, USA.

  • May 4, 2012 Soul of Spring,McMichael Art Gallery, Kleinburg, Ontario. A medley of music, dance and poetry based on Tagore's play. It was performed during an exhibition of Tagore's paintings 'The Last Harvest' at the gallery.

  • Jan 19, 2012 'Race and Diversity in Tagore', talk by Ananya Mukherjee-Reed at the University of Toronto

  • Sept 30, 2011 Tagore reading at the Festival of South Asian Literature and the Arts

  • October 2, 2011 A panel on Tagore featuring Uma Dasgupta and Martha Nussbaum on Writers & Company, CBC Radio One Broadcast time 3:05 pm Eastern. Click here for more details and podcast
  • Dec 3-4, 2011: A film festival featuring the North American premier of two films based on Tagore's work.
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