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Chapter: BOHLI | JKBOSE Class 10th English Notes

Bholi – K. Abbas 

1) Bholi is sent to school for many unusual reasons. She is disfigured by small pox – marks. A fall at the age of ten months has damaged her brain and she has become mentally challenged. She rarely speaks as she stammers and a made fun of. Under this background, the Tehsildar urges Ram Lal, Bholi’s Father to send his daughters to school when a primary school for girls is opened in the village so as to set an example for others. Bholi’s mother is dead against sending girls to school to receive an education. She feels that doing so, will ruin their marriage prospects. However she makes an exception with Bholi, as she reasons that her marriage prospect is bleak, considering her physical and mental deformities. So, just to get rid of her and to appease the Tehsildar, Bholi is allowed to attend school. 


2) At school, the teacher treats Bholi with great love and affection from the very start. She treats her no differently from other students and does not make her feel that she is less capable in any way. The teacher at school is exceptionally kind and gentle when she realizes that she is a shy, timid and withdrawn girl. She makes a special effort to make Bholi feel wanted and secure and tries all ways to bring her out of her shell with infinite patience. When Bholi stammers out her name, the teacher does not make fun of her disability, but affectionately pats her head and coaxes her to put out all fear from her heart and reassures her that she will soon be able to speak like everyone else. She motivates Bholi to attend school regularly and promises her that she will become a wise and learned child and gain respect of everyone in the village. Thus, the teacher introduces Bholi to the world of knowledge and learning and helps her, whereas at home , Bholi is treated as a mere liability. 

3) Bholi’s parents consider her to be a liability. They never look beyond their daughter’s physical disfigurements or try to see that their daughter too has her own identity. They consider Bishamber’s proposal as a miracle as he is rich, owns a big shop and most importantly demands no dowry. It does not matter to them that he has grown up children, limps and is around 50 years old. They feel that if they refused this proposal, Bholi will remain unmarried, and be a burden around their necks for the rest of their lives and so they agree to the proposal. 

 4) Bholi has heard her parents discussing Bishamber’s marriage proposal and knows the groom’s drawbacks, but never says ‘no’ to the proposal as she does not want to go against her parent’s wishes. However, at the time of her wedding, when Bishamber sees her pock – marked face, he refuses to go ahead with the wedding, unless Ramlal pays him five thousand rupees as dowry. Although, Bholi’s father places his turban at his feet, he refuses to relent unless his demand is fulfilled. Finally Ramlal brings five thousand rupees and puts it at the bridegroom’s feet. At this, Bholi puts a halt to the wedding proceedings as she refuses to tie the knot with such a mean and greedy man. This shows Bholi is a girl of great courage, confidence and has a mind of her own. She is not ready to suffer such injustice or disgrace in silence . She tells her parents that she will serve them in their old age and thus proves that girls are dependable and sincere. She proves her worth although she has been ill – treated by her parents throughout her life, she still loves them and is willing to serve them. She definitely is a woman of substance in control of her destiny. 

5) Ramlal’s fourth daughter is named Sulekha which in Sanskrit means ‘fine lines of destiny’ or is another name for goddess Lakshmi. Fate however decides otherwise for Sulekha, when she falls off a cot at 10 months and is disfigured by black small pox marks and stammers too. Her beautiful name Sulekha, is forgotten and she is called Bholi or ‘simpleton’ by everyone. However, going to school opens a new universe for Bholi. Under the gentle encouragement and guidance of her school teacher, Bholi changes from a simple, timid, insecure and withdrawn child, to a confident, self – assured woman. She refuses getting married to Bishamber when he blackmails her father to give dowry and thus gives him a befitting reply. She shows that she is wise and has self- respect. She is truly in control of her destiny, and hence is called ‘Sulekha’ and not ‘Bholi’ at the end of the story.  


CHARACTER SKETCH OF BHOLI:- The story is about a simple young girl named Bholi. Bholi is an Urdu word which means simpleton. Her real name was Sulekha. However, destiny cheated her and when she was ten months old, she tumbled off the bed harming some part of her brain.. She was the fourth daughter of Numberdar Ramlal who had seven children. Bholi remained a backward child due to that head injury. She was fair and pretty at birth but when she was two years old, she had an attack of smallpox which left deep black marks all over her body. She started speaking only when she turned five but she stammered when she spoke and as a result she was always mimicked or made fun of by the other children. Therefore, Bholi talked very little. Unlike Ramlal’s other children, she was not healthy and strong. She was frightened at first when her father wanted to take her to school. But when she was bathed and given new clothes to wear, she began to believe that she was being taken to a place better than her home. Bholi did not know what exactly a school was and what happened there, but when she saw girls like her present there, she was glad. She hoped that one of those girls would become her friend. In the class when her teacher asked her name, she tried to say but the girls started laughing when she stammered. She cried and kept her head down throughout the class. When her teacher called out her name softly after the class was over, she was very touched because no one had ever spoken to her in such soft voice. The teacher was very encouraging and friendly to her and this made her gain confidence to speak. She could see a ray of hope for a new life. After years of gaining education and with the help of her teacher, Bholi turned into a confident girl. She no longer stammered and could speak properly. She even had the courage to refuse marrying the lame old man because he was greedy and asked money from her father to marry her. On seeing her father worried about her marriage, she said that he needed not worry as she would teach in the same school where she had learnt so much and would take care of him and her mother in their old age.


CHARACTER SKETCH OF BISHAMBER NATH:- Bishamber Nath was an aged man. He was nearly about fifty years old when he proposed to marry Bholi. He limped heavily as he would walk.His first wife had died, and his children were also grown up. When Bishamber Nath expressed his wish to marry Bholi, Ramlal and his wife felt happy to find a groom for their simpleton daughter. They were least bothered about Bholi’s interests. Ramlal would talk very high of Bishamber Nath. He, along with his wife started talking very high of his riches and estates. At the marriage party, Bishamber kept much pomp and show. His intentions were brought to the fore when he discovered pockmarks on Bholi’s face. He took Ramlal aback by denying to marry Bholi but with the dowry of five thousand rupees. In this way, his greed for money was unveiled. Ramlal, being a poor man had no ready cash. He fell on his knees, but this was of no avail. The public humiliation of Ramlal fell very heavy on Bholi. Ramlal, however, managed to get the money from somewhere. This made Bishamber approach Bholi with garland but Bholi turned the table at the right time. She rejected Bishamber to his utter disgrace.

  

CHARACTER SKETCH OF BHOLI’S PARENTS:- Bholi’s parents had three sons and four daughters. The sons had been sent to the city for further studies. Their eldest daughter, Radha, was married.Their second daughter, Mangla’s wedding was fixed. Their third daughter was champa, for whom, they were not worried at all.Bholi was their fourth daughter and they neglected her as she was physically disfigured and was considered mentally challenged. They never made new clothes for her as she was always given her sister’s old clothes.No one cared to mend or wash her clothes. Bholi was sent to school because Ramlal felt that there was no hope of her getting hitched.He never spoke gently to her and called her a fool. when a marriage proposal came for her, they never minded the fact that the bridegroom was old, limped and had grown up children. Even when the bridegroom demanded dowry, they were willing to give the amount as they were followers of tradition and did not have the courage to go against that bad custom. Even then, the father called his daughter shameless and ugly when she refused to garland the bridegroom. He felt that she had brought shame to the family by being outspoken. 


THEMES:- 

1) Discrimination of weak and disabled children: Bholi is not treated in a good way. She is disgraced both at home and outside home. No one treats her as a human being. She is called Bholi a ‘simpleton’. She has pockmarks on her face. She is not able to talk as a normal girl as she stammers. Being unfortunate since her childhood, she is ignored and less cared by her parents and everyone in the society. Only one person treats her well and that is her teacher. She talks and treats her in a loving and soothing voice and builds confidence in her that she will be the most learned person in the society. And at the end, teacher’s prediction comes true when Bholi refuses to marry Bishember. She stops stammering and learns to be a real human being. The author sets teacher as an example, which people like Ramlal and his wife should follow to treat disabled children. The story explains the importance of emotional security and family support for children. It indicates the need of love, encouragement and education for the disabled to fight against their odds. 


2) Impact of family support and emotional security on children:- Bholi is a little girl who fails to develop self-confidence because of her parent’s attitude towards her. The story limits at why family support and emotional security are essential for proper child development. Also, disabled children must be given encouragement, love and education like their normal counterparts. This is what Bholi’s teacher did in school and she soon became a well groomed person. She also came to be known by her actual name Sulekha. 


3) Importance of Education: Bholi is considered to be more of a burden on the family than a living being. But, school proves to be a good chance to Bholi because that is where for the first time he is considered as a human being, and is allowed to speak. She gets educated there, develops self-confidence and becomes courageous enough to be taking stand for herself which is seen at the end of the story when her father arranges her marriage with an aged limping widower of fifty years, Bholi refuses to marry him as he demands dowry way more than Bholi’s parents could afford and thereafter decides to live her life by teaching in a school. She got that courage only because of that educated girl in her. 

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