1. Bholi, the Simpleton: Bholi was the fourth daughter of Numberdar Ramlal. She had fallen off the cot when she was just ten months old. Perhaps some part of her brain was damaged. Out of all children, only she remained backwards. Therefore she was called Bholi, the simpleton.
2. Pock-marks All Over the Body: At birth, Bholi was very fair and pretty. When she was two years old, she had an attack on smallpox. Her eyes were saved but her entire body was disfigured. She had deep black pock-marks all over the body. Little Sulekha (Bholi) learned how to speak at five. She stammered. Children often made fun of her. So, Bholi talks very little.
3. Seven Children in the Family: Ramlal had seven children–three sons and four daughters. Bholi was the youngest. It was a prosperous family. There was plenty to eat and drink. Every child was healthy except Bholi. The sons were sent to study in the city. Radha was already married. Mangla’s marriage had been fixed. The third one was Champa. All the girls except Bholi were good looking and healthy. There was no difficulty in marrying them. Ramlal was worried about Bholi. She had neither good looks nor intelligence.
4. Bholi at Village School: A primary school was opened in the village. The `Tehsildar came to perform its opening ceremony. He asked Ramlal to set an example and send all his daughters to school. He had no courage to disobey the Tehsildar. The next day, he caught Bholi by the hand and took her to school. She was frightened and shouted in terror. Bholi was lucky to receive a clean dress that no longer fitted Champa. She was bathed and oil was rubbed in her malty hair. Bholi now began to think that school was a better place than home.
5. Kind-hearted Teacher: Bholi was glad to find so many girls there. They were almost her age. She hoped that one of these girls might become her friend. Bholi was impressed by the pictures of birds and mammals on the wall. The teacher came to her and asked for her name. She stammered again and again but could not pronounce her full name. The teacher encouraged her. She decided to make another effort. And this time she succeeded in pronouncing her full name. “Bh-Bh-Bho —Bholi.” The teacher patted her affectionately. She assured her that she would be able to speak like everyone else soon. She asked her to come to school every day. She said. “Ye-Ye-Yes.” Bholi was herself surprised that she had been able to say this. The teacher assured her that within a month she would be able to read the picture book. In time, she would be more learned than anyone else in the village. Then no-one would be able to laugh at her. Bholi’s heart was throbbing with new hope and a new life.
6. Bholi’s Marriage Plan: At last, an offer came from a well-to-do bridegroom for Bholi. He had a big shop, a house of his own and several thousand in the bank. He was not asking for dowry. The bridegroom was almost the age of Bholi’s father and he also limped. The children from his first wife were quite grown up. These things didn’t matter to Bholi’s parents. They were happy that she was, at least, going to be married.
7. Bholi’s Wedding Day: Bishamber Nath, the bridegroom of Bholi, was a prosperous grocer. He came with a big party of friends and relatives. A brass band was playing a popular filmy tune. Ramlal was overjoyed to see such pomp and splendour. Bholi’s elder sisters were jealous of her luck.
8. Garlanding and a Quick Glance of Bholi: The bridegroom lifted the garland of yellow marigolds. A woman slipped back the silken veil of Bholi. Bishamber took a quick glance. The garland remained poised in his hands. He cried that she had pock-marks on her face. If he was to marry her, her father must give him 5000 rupees as dowry Ramlal placed his turban at Bishamber’s feet. He was ready to pay two thousand rupees. The bridegroom didn’t budge from 5000. At last, Ramlal went in and opened the safe and counted the notes. He placed the bundle of notes on Bishamber’s feet. The greedy Bishamber had a triumphant smile on his face. He was ready to garland the bride.
9. Bholi Threw Away the Marriage Garland into the Fire: Before Bishamber could garland her, Bholi’s hand struck out like a streak of lightning and the garland was flung into the fire. She got up and threw away the veil. All her relatives and her parents were stunned to hear her speak without stammering. Bholi asked her father to take the money back. Ramlal called her crazy and she wanted to disgrace the family. Bholi replied that she would not have such a mean, and greedy man as her husband. Bishamber Nath started to go back to his party. Ramlal turned to Bholi and asked what she would do as no one would ever marry her. Sulekha (Bholi) said in a firm voice that they didn’t need to worry about her. She would serve her father and mother in their old age. She would teach in the same school where she had learned so much. Bholi’s teacher had been watching the drama standing in a corner. She said, “Yes Bholi, of course”.
DETAILED SUMMARY (2)
Ramlal was the Numberdar of the village. He had four daughters and three sons. All his children were very healthy but his youngest daughter Sulekha was a backward child. When she was ten months old she fell down from the cot and a pan of her brain was damaged.
When she was two years old she had an attack of smallpox. Her face was permanently disfigured by deep black pock-marks. She started speaking at the age of five years but she stammered. So everyone called her Bholi.
She was considered a witless fool even by her parents, her sisters and her brothers. None cared for her. Ramlars eldest daughter Radha had already been married. The second daughter Mangla’s marriage had also been settled. Ramlal was worried only about Bholi.
A primary school for girls was opened in the village. The Tehsildar Sahib came to perform its opening ceremony. He asked Ramlal to set an example before the village by sending his daughters to school. Both Ramlal and his wife were not in favour of girl education but Ramlal had not the courage to disobey the Tehsildar. So they decided to send Bholi to school.
The next day Ramlal asked Bholi to go to school with him. ‘Bholi did not know anything about school. She was frightened. She refused to go anywhere.
Ramlal asked his wife to give some decent clothes to Bholi. New clothes had never been made for Bholi but that day she was lucky to receive a clean dress. She was even bathed and oil was rubbed into her dry and matted hair. She thought that she was being taken to a place better than her house.
When they reached the school, Bholi saw many girls of her age sitting in the rooms. The headmistress asked Bholi to sit down in a corner in one of the classrooms. The lady teacher in the class was very good. The teacher asked her about her name but she could not speak her full name. She began to weep.
When the school was off for the day the teacher asked Bholi to come the next day and Bholi nodded. Bholi became familiar to the teacher. The teacher drove out her sense of fear. Now she began to speak without stammering a little.
Now, Bholi was grown up. She had passed many classes. Her father got a marriage proposal for her from Bishamber who was a rich grocer from the neighbouring village. He was about fifty years old. He walked with limbs. He had children from his earlier wife. Ramlal accepted the proposal and asked Bishamber to come with a bar.
Bishamber came with great pomp and show for the wedding. Everybody was joyful. All the friends and relatives of Ramlal and Bishamber were present there. Bholi dressed in red was brought there. When Bishamber was about to put the garland around Bholi’s neck, a lady pulled back Bholi’s veil.
Bishamber saw Bholi’s face covered with pock-marks. He refused to many her. After many requests but he agreed to put a condition that he would marry Bholi only when Ramlal would give him five thousand rupees.
Ramlal put the bundle of five thousand rupees on Bishamber’s feet. Bishamber was feeling victorious. He raised the garland to place it around the bride’s neck but Bholi struck the garland away. Bholi said that she would not marry such a mean, greedy and cowardly person. The bar was returned empty-handed without a bride.
Ramlal was full of grief and shame. Bholi consoled her father that she would serve them in their old age and she said that she would teach in the same school where she got the education.
Main Points of the Story
1. Bholi was the youngest daughter of Ramlal.
2. She damaged a part of her brain when she fell off from her cot just when she was ten months old.
3. When she was two years old, she had an attack on smallpox.
4. A fair and pretty child was disfigured with pock-marks.
5. Bholi was thought to be a simpleton and a backward child who stammered while speaking.
6. All other daughters of Ramlal were good looking and healthy.
7. Ramlal was worried about Bholi as she had neither good looks nor intelligence.
8. The `Tehsildar’ inaugurated a primary school for girls in the village.
9. He asked `Numberdar’ Ramlal to set an example before the villagers by sending all his daughters to school.
10. Ramlal couldn’t disobey the Tehsildar and it was decided to send Bholi to school.
11. Bholi was bathed, oil was rubbed into her malty hair and she was given a clean dress that no more fitted Champa.
12. Then Bholi started to think that school was a better place than home.
13. At school, Bholi was pleased to see so many girls of her age and hoped to befriend one of them.
14. The teacher asked her name but she couldn’t pronounce it.
15. Bholi was ashamed that even after so many efforts, she couldn’t pronounce her name.
16. The teacher was very friendly and sympathetic and encouraged her to try again.
17. At last, Bholi succeeded in saying Th-Bh-Bho-Bholi” and the teacher patted her for her success.
18. The teacher assured her that very soon she would start speaking like all others, without stammering.
19. She gave a picture book to Bholi and hoped that she would finish it within a month.
20. The teacher encouraged and assured Bholi that she would be the most learned girl in the whole village.
21. An offer for marriage came from a prosperous grocer, Bishamber, for Bholi.
22. The bridegroom was rich, had his own house and thousands of rupees in the bank.
23. The bridegroom was almost the same age as her father and he limped. He had also grown-up children from his first wife.
24. Bholi reluctantly agreed to marriage just to keep the ‘honour’ of her family.
25. On the wedding day, Bishamber came with a large party of friends and relatives.
26. When Bishamber was ready to garland Bholi, he happened to see her face suddenly.
27. He cried that he would not many a girl with pock-marks.
28. Ramlal put his turban at his feet, but he was not moved.
29. At last, he agreed to marry Bholi, if her father gave him 5000 rupees as dowry.
30. In the end, Ramlal went inside and came out with a bundle of notes and put it at the feet of the bridegroom.
31. When Bishamber was about to garland Bholi, she snatched the garland and threw it away into the fire.
32. She said that she would not many a mean, greedy and coward like Bishamber.
33. Everyone including her parents was stunned to hear Bholi speaking all this without stammering.
34. Ramlal called her crazy and asked what she would do as no one would ever marry her.
35. Bholi replied that she would serve her parents in their old age and teach in the same school from where she had learned so much.
36. Her teacher was seeing the whole drama standing in a corner, agreed with Bholi and said. “Yes, Bholi, of course.