“Bholi” narrates the story of a young girl named Bholi who was born with a cleft lip, which made her speech difficult and her appearance different from other children. The story is set in a rural Indian village where people hold conservative views and often discriminate against those who are physically or socially different. Bholi’s family members are concerned about her future, as her condition makes it challenging for her to find a suitable marriage match.
This story tells us about a girl named Sulekha who was called Bholi because she was a simpleton. She was a neglected child. She used to stammer. She was disliked and neglected by everyone. So she had an inferiority complex. She was guided by her primary school teacher properly.
Her education gave her the courage and capability to fight against her weakness. She refused to marry an elderly man Bishamber Nath who was a greedy person. Her education helped her to be independent. Her right decision made her respectable in her society.
Bholi Summary in English
She was called Bholi, the simpleton although her name was Sulekha. She was fourth daughter of Numberdar Ramlal. When she was ten months old, she fell off her cot and received an injury on some part of her brain. She remained a backward child.
She came to be known as Bholi, the simpleton. At her birth, she was very fair and pretty. At the age of two she had an attack of small-pox. Only her eyes were saved. Her entire body was permanently disfigured by deep black pock-marks.
She could not speak till she was five. When she learnt to speak, she stammered. The other children often made fun of her and mimicked her. As a result, she talked very little. She had three brothers and three sisters. She was the youngest of them all.
Her father was a wealthy farmer. All the children except Bholi were healthy. The brothers had been sent to the city to study in schools and later in colleges. Radha, the eldest girl, was already married.
The second daughter Mangla’s marriage had also been settled. The third daughter Champa was waiting to be married. They were good looking girls. They would easily get bridegrooms. Ramlal was worried about Bholi. She had neither good looks nor intelligence.
Summary of Bholi
Mangla was married when Bholi was seven. The same year a primary school was opened in their village. The Tehsildar performed the opening ceremony of the school. He told Ramlal, the Numberdar, to send his daughters to school. His wife did not like this idea.
She was of the view if girls went to school, nobody would marry them. But Ramlal did not have the courage to disobey the Tehsildar. Ramlal and his wife sent Bholi to school as she had no chance to get married. He told his wife to dress Bholi in good clothes and send her to school. Previously she used to wear old clothes worn by her sisters.
Ramlal and. Bholi went to school. She was handed over to the headmistress. Bholi was glad to find so many girls of her own age present there. Bholi saw some pictures in the classroom. She felt fascinated by the colours. The teacher stood by her side.
She was smiling. The teacher asked her name. Since Bholi was a stammerer, she could not go further than Bh-Bh-Bho. She began to cry and tears began to flow from her eyes. She kept her head down. She saw the girls were laughing at her.
The school bell rang. All the girls ran out of their classes. The teacher called her in a very soft voice. She asked her to tell her name. She again said Bho-Bho-Bho-Bho. At last she was able to say Bholi. The teacher patted her affectionately and told her that she had done well.
She told Bholi to put the fear out of her heart and then she would be able to speak like everyone else. Bholi said that she would come to school every day. The teacher then told her to take the book.
The book was full of nice pictures and the pictures were in colour—dog, cat, goat, horse, parrot, tiger and a cow. She assured Bholi that she will be given a bigger book. After finishing she will get a still bigger one. In time she will be learned. Then nobody will laugh at her. She told her to come to school every day.
Bholi feit happy. She thought that she was having a new life. Thus the years passed. The village became a small town. Ramlal and his wife settled the marriage of Bholi with one Bishamber Nath who was an old man. He was a well-to do grocer.
His marriage party came in village. Bishamber told his friend in the marriage mandap that his would-be wife had pock marks on her face. His friend told him that it should not matter as he himself was quite old.
But Bishamber told Bholi’s father if he was to marry Bholi, her father must give him five thousand rupees. Ramlal begged Bishamber Nath not to humiliate him. He offered him two thousand rupees. He told him to be merciful. Bishamber told him to give him five thousand rupees.
Bholi threw a garland of her neck into the fire. She told her father that she was not going to marry this greedy old man who was lame. The guests began to say that she was shameless. Ramlal shouted at Bholi not to disgrace her family. Bholi said that for the sake of her father’s izzat she was willing to marry this lame old man. But now she will not marry such a mean, greedy and hateful coward.
An old woman said that she is a shameless girl. They all thought that she was a dumb cow. She said that the auntie was all right. That is why they had decided to hand her over to that heartless creature. Bishamber. Nath, the grocer, started to go back with his party. Ramlal stood rooted to the ground. His head was bowed low. The flames of the sacred fire slowly died down. Ramlal told Bholi that nobody would marry her.
She told her father not to worry. She said that she will serve her father in her old age. She will teach in the same school. Her teacher was present there. In her smiling eyes there was the light of a deep satisfaction that an artist feels when he sees the completion of his work.
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