Q. Why is Bholi’s father worried about her?
Ans. Bholi’s father was worried about her because she had neither good looks nor intelligence. She fell off the cot on her head when she was ten months old and got one of the parts of her brain damaged. She had an attack of small-pox when she was two-years old. Only the eyes were saved, but the entire body was permanently disfigured by deep black pock-marks.
Q. For what unusual reasons is Bholi sent to school?
Ans. Ramlal is asked to send his daughters to school by the Tehsildar. He does not have the courage to disobey him. So he consults his wife to send the children to school. But she refused and suggested that Bholi should be sent to school because there is little chance of her getting married, with her ugly face and lack of sense.
Q. Does Bholi enjoy her first day at school?
Ans. Bholi does not know what exactly a school is like and what happens there. But she becomes happy to find so many girls almost of her own age present there. She hopes that one of these girls might become her friend. The teacher’s encouraging and polite tone makes her enjoy her stay there. She feels nervous, frightened and surprised. But the teacher encouraged her to speak and gave her a book full of nice pictures. The teacher also promises that she will be given more books and she will be more learned than anyone else in the village. Bholi feels as if all the bells in the village temple are ringing and the trees in front of the school house have blossomed into big red flowers. Her heart throbs with a new hope and a new wife.
Q. Does she find her teacher different from the people at home?
Ans. Yes, Bholi finds her teacher different from the people at home. The teacher’s love and caring nature impress Bholi. She feels isolated and lonely at home. She is not given importance at home. But the teacher’s way of asking her name and encouraging her to speak touched her heart.
Q. Why do Bholi’s parents accept Bishamber’s marriage proposal?
Ans. Bholi’s parents accept Bishamber’s marriage proposal because Bholi does not have a beautiful face and lacks sense. Her parents are of the opinion that if they don’t accept this proposal she will remain unmarried all her life. Moreover, Bishamber does not demand any dowry.
Q. Why does the marriage not take place?
Ans. The marriage does not take place because of Bholi’s decision. Bishamber notices the pock-marks on her face and refuses to marry her. He says that if I am to marry her, her father must give him five thousand rupees. Bholi asks her father to take back his money and refuses to marry a mean, greedy and contemptible coward.
Q. Bholi had many apprehensions about going to school. What made her feel that she was going to a better place than her home?
Ans. Bholi was frightened when her father asked her to accompany him to school. She did not know what a school was like. She remembered how a few days ago their old cow had been turned out of the house and sold. But today she received a clean dress which had shrunk after many washings and no longer fitted her sister. She was even bathed and oil was rubbed into her dry and matted hair. Only then did she begin to believe that she was being taken to a place better than her home!
Q. How did Bholi’s teacher play an important role in changing the course of her life?
Ans. Bholi was a mentally challenged child. Everyone used to make fun of her. But the teacher patted her affectionately and encouraged her to speak. She got a new hope and a new life. The teacher bolstered her confidence to face the challenges of life. Bholi refused to marry Bishamber only because of the teacher’s sincere efforts to make her a normal child.
Q. Why did Bholi at first agree to the unequal match? Why did she later reject the marriage? What does this tell about her?
Ans. Bholi was a sensitive and sensible girl. She did not want to bring disgrace to her family. So she accepted and agreed to the unusual match. But, unfortunately, Bishamber demanded dowry at the time of marriage. Ramlal placed his turban at Bishamber’s feet and requested not to humiliate him. But Bishamber was adamant. Her father gave him five thousand rupees to save his family’s respect. Bholi refused to marry a mean and greedy fellow. It shows that Bholi was a courageous and confident girl who decided to serve her parents throughout her life.
Q. Bholi’s real name is Sulekha. We are told this right at the beginning. But only in the last but one paragraph of the story is Bholi called Sulekha again. Why do you think she is called Sulekha at that point in the story?
Ans. Bholi’s real name is Sulekha. When she was ten months old, she fell off the cot and got some part of her brain damaged. So she remained a backward child and the member of the family started calling her Bholi, the simpleton. But Bholi regained her senses when her teacher started teaching her. She was made independent, courageous, sensible and selfrespecting by her teacher. This is the reason that she is called Sulekha at the end of the story.
Q. Bholi’s teacher helped her overcome social barriers by encouraging and motivating her. How do you think you can contribute towards changing the social attitudes illustrated in this society?
Ans. It is a well known fact that social evils are a danger to human existence. Every educated person needs to fight against the darkness of ignorance. The innocent and ignorant villagers can be made aware of their weaknesses and flaws. They should be taught politely and not arrogantly. The attitude of the young can be moulded easily. They are receptive and ready to adept to the new surroundings. Some social Awareness campaigns can be started and the villagers can be motivated and encouraged to stop following those social barriers which are a slur on our society.
Q. Should girls be aware of their rights, and assert them? Should girls and boys have the same rights, duties and privileges? What are some of the ways in which society treats them differently? When we speak of ‘human rights’, do we differentiate between girls’ rights and boys’ rights?
Ans. Discrimination leads to inequality. There should be no discrimination on the basis of sex or gender. Girls should get equal rights and opportunities to excel in life. It is a fact that girls are equally talented and they do have limitless potential. They cannot be confined to the four walls of the house. They are creative and diligent. They have the ability to contribute their mite to the development of society. Indian women have been the torchbearer of national uplift in all spheres of life. They have been the examples of undaunted courage before their adversaries. There are no separate human rights for girls and boys. So, there should be no discrimination on the basis of sex.
Q. Do you think the characters in the story were speaking to each other in English? If not, in which language were they speaking? (You can get clues from the names of the persons and the non-English words used in the story.)
Ans. They were not speaking in English. They were interacting in Hindi. Bholi called her father ‘Pitaji’. It is a Hindi word. Moreover the name ‘Bholi’ is an Indian name. Thus we can say that the characters were speaking Hindi.