Bholi by A. K. Abbas is the story of Sulekha. She is a young girl neglected by all. Education transforms her. It inspires courage and confidence in her. She raises her voice for her rights.
The main character of this story is a simple girl, named Bholi. Her real name is Sulekha and she is the fourth daughter of Numberdar Ramlal. She fell out of her cot when she was ten months old and probably, a part of her brain was damaged. Pretty at the time of her birth, her body was disfigured and at the age of two, by an attack of smallpox. Only her eyes were saved. As late speaker, she could not speak clearly and so children made fun of her.
Bholi was the weakest child, while her brother and sisters were healthy. Her sisters, who were good looking, were married off and her brothers were sent to the city to study. When a primary school was opened in their village, Bholi’s father who was a revenue officer, wanted her to study there. He sent Bholi to school even though her mother protested against it.
Dressed in new clothes, she was sent to school. Happy to see other girls there, she hoped that one of them would become her friend. The teacher asked her, her name but Bholi was too scared to answer. The teacher smilingly encouraged her to speak. She also asked Bholi to come to the school daily. She gave her a book with many colourful pictures in it. She also told Bholi that she would soon be able to read it and everyone would treat her with respect. Bholi was filled with hope.
As the village progressed, the primary school became a high school.
When Bholi was of marriageable age, her father fixed her match with a person named Bishamber, as he had a big shop, house and a large bank balance. Nearly fifty years old, he also walked with a limp. Not only that, he was a widower and had grown up children.
Bholi was not consulted when this marriage was fixed. The day of her marriage came, and Bishamber arrived with a big baraat. He was pleased with the arrangements but when Bholi’s silken veil was removed, he was shocked to see her pock-marked face.
He refused to garland her, and said that the marriage would go through only if an additional five thousand rupees were given to him. Ramlal brought the money. When Bishamber was about to garland her, Bholi flung the garland into the fire. She very clearly told her father that she would not marry that man, who was not just only old and lame but also a mean and greedy person. She took a vow never to get married. She decided that she would become a teacher and serve her parents in their old age.