Kabhul: a short story1

There was a young boy named Kabhul. He was twelve years old. He used to play football extremely well. What you call soccer here is what we call football in India. He was the captain of his team.

One day, after the game was over, he went to a cafeteria and wanted to drink a cup of tea. The waiter gave him a cup, a small quantity of milk and a spoonful of sugar. He asked the waiter to give him one more spoonful and the waiter gave it to him. Then he said, "Can you give me one more, just one more?"

The waiter said, "You greedy fellow!"

The boy was simply shocked to hear the word 'greedy'. How could the man call him greedy? He said to the waiter, "Do not call me greedy!"

"Instead of one spoonful of sugar, you need three spoonfuls. What else shall I call you? You really are a greedy fellow!"

Kabhul was very sad and shocked, but he drank the tea anyway and then he asked for a cup of milk. The waiter brought it to him. Kabhul said, "I wish to have one more cup of tea and please bring me three spoonfuls of sugar. I will pay for them if I have to."

The man said, "All right, if you want to pay a little more, I will give you three spoonfuls instead of one. Usually I give only one spoonful, but since you are ready to pay, I will give you as many spoonfuls as you want."

Kabhul drank half the milk by the time the man brought him the tea. Then he said to the man, "Now bring me a small quantity of milk for the tea."

The waiter said, "You fool! Here you still have so much milk. Can you not pour a little milk from here?"

Kabhul asked, "Why? Then why should I pay for the milk that you are supposed to give me with the tea? You should give me that."

The waiter said, "You fool!"

Kabhul answered, "I am a fool and you are a rogue! You have to give me the milk."

The waiter brought him a small quantity of milk and said, "You are a rogue and you are a greedy fellow and you are a fool."

Then Kabhul said, "Now I am making a promise. I promise to you that in this life I will never, never, never drink tea again. Today you have called me a greedy fellow and you have just called me a fool. Just for this, I am not going to drink tea any more in this life. I take an oath."

The waiter said, "You nuisance! Who cares for you? Who cares whether you drink tea or not? Who cares? You nuisance!"

Kabhul got furious. He said, "I am a greedy fellow, I am a fool, I am a nuisance!" He paid the waiter the money and left the restaurant feeling very sad and depressed. He said to himself, "I come of a rich family and in one day this fellow has to insult me three times! At home when I eat, my parents, specially my mother, always insist on my eating a lot of food. The more I eat, the more money I get from them. Here, the more I drink, the more I have to pay. At home with my parents, I get their love, affection and everything. And, in addition, the more I eat, the more they give me money. I get all love, all affection from my parents when I eat. Here people are so indifferent and so careless. They do not care for me at all and I have to be the one to pay."

When Kabhul arrived home, he said to his mother, "Mother, how I have been insulted today by an ordinary man! A waiter insulted me and told me that I am a greedy fellow. Then he said that I am a fool. Then he said that I am a nuisance."

Kabhul's mother heard the whole story from her son. Then she said, "Look, my son, how many times have I told you that tea is not good for anybody's health, so we do not drink tea. I do not allow you to drink tea here at all and I have told you repeatedly not to drink tea outside, but you do not listen to me. So you see, when you do not listen to me, how people insult you!"

The boy said, "Mother, I shall always listen to you. From now on, I shall stop drinking tea. And, in the future, I shall not do anything that you ask me not to do. I shall always listen. Whatever you want me to do, I shall do and whatever you ask me not to do, I will not do. I shall always try to please you. And I shall always obey you. If I obey you, then nobody will dare to insult me."

"My son," his mother replied, "nobody will dare to insult you if you always listen to me."


  1. TCE 40. 1974