Once again the veil was slipped back from the bride’s face, but this time her eyes were not downcast. She was looking up, looking straight at her prospective husband, and in her eyes there was neither anger nor hate, only cold contempt.
 
     Bishamber raised the garland to place it round the bride’s neck; but before he could do so, 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.
 
     “Pitaji!” said Bholi in a clear loud voice; and her father, mother, sisters, brothers, relations and neighbours were startled to hear her speak without even the slightest stammer.
 
     “Pitaji! Take back your money. I am not going to marry this man.”
 
     Ramlal was thunderstruck. The guests began to whisper, “So shameless! So ugly and so shameless!”
 
     “Bholi, are you crazy?” shouted Ramlal. “You want to disgrace your family? Have some regard for our izzat!”
 
     “For the sake of your izzat,” said Bholi, “I was willing to marry this lame old man. But I will not have such a mean, greedy and contemptible coward as my husband. I won’t, I won’t, I won’t.”
 
     “What a shameless girl! We all thought she was a harmless dumb cow.”
 
     Bholi turned violently on the old woman, “Yes, Aunty, you are right. You all thought I was a dumb–driven cow. That’s why you wanted to hand me over to this heartless creature. But now the dumb cow, the stammering fool, is speaking. Do you want to hear more?”
 
     Bishamber Nath, the grocer, started to go back with his party. The confused bandsmen thought this was the end of the ceremony and struck up a closing song.
 
     Ramlal stood rooted to the ground, his head bowed low with the weight of grief and shame.
 
     The flames of the sacred fire slowly died down. Everyone was gone. Ramlal turned to Bholi and said, “But what about you, no one will ever marry you now. What shall we do with you?”
 
     And Sulekha said in a voice that was calm and steady, “Don’t you worry, Pitaji! In your old age I will serve you and Mother and I will teach in the same school where I learnt so much. Isn’t that right, Ma’am?”
 
     The teacher had all along stood in a corner, watching the drama. “Yes, Bholi, of course,” she replied. And in her smiling eyes was the light of a deep satisfaction that an artist feels when contemplating the completion of her masterpiece.
Explanation:
 
Bholi's veil was slipped back once more from her face. Her eyes weren't sad or hopeless this time. She raised her head and fixed her gaze on the groom. She had neither fury nor hatred in her eyes. The groom then raised the garland over the bride's neck.
 
Before Bishamber was about to put the garland, Bholi stuck his hand as fast as a streak of lightning. The garland then flew and fell into the sacred fire. She then threw away her veil too.
 
Bholi then called her father "Pitaji" in a loud, clear voice. While hearing her loud voice, Bholi's father, mother, sisters, brothers, relations and the neighbours who came to attend the meeting were shocked. She didn't even stammer while she was calling him. Bholi then asked her father to get the money back from the greedy bridegroom. She also said that she was not going to marry him.
 
After hearing Bholi's statements, her father seemed astonished. Even the guests who came to attend the function started to murmur about Bholi. They said that she was behaving in a shameless and ugly manner. Bholi's father then asked her whether she was mad. Then he says that whether she wants to lower his family status. He then tells her to give respect for their family reputation. Here, one can find that Ramlal did not react to the bridegroom's reaction. He pleaded with him and asked him to marry his daughter. But when Bholi raised her voice against the evil things, her father asked her to shut her mouth. Here, one can picturise that her father was only focussing on family reputation, and he didn't bother about life after her marriage.
 
Bholi then says that because of her family's honour, she had accepted the marriage. In addition, she says that while thinking of his reputation, she decided to marry the lame old man. She then says that she will not marry such kind of coward and greedy fellow in her life.
 
While Bholi was speaking to her father, an old woman said, "What a shameless girl". The older woman used this term because she spoke in front of everyone. Even though everyone says that women are independent in doing everything, they are rarely allowed to make their life decisions. Mostly when it comes to marriage, they were not allowed to take the most important decisions in their life. The same happened with Bholi. She, too, accepted the marriage because of her family.
 
The old woman then said they thought her a shameless dumb cow. The neighbours and her family members thought that she wouldn't open her mouth in front of others because of her stammering and lack of knowledge.
 
Bholi became enraged on hearing the old woman's statement. She then said that whatever the old woman said was right. In addition, she said that they all thought of her as a dumb cow, and they thought of marrying her to a greedy and selfish fellow. After telling that, she said the stammering, and the fool started to speak. She asks the old woman whether she wants to hear more from her.
 
While seeing the entire situation and the girl's attitude, the bridegroom decided to stop the wedding and return to his home. The bandsmen who were watching the entire situation thought that the marriage was not going to happen, and they were struck by playing the closing song. After seeing the entire situation, Bholi's father felt sad. He bowed his head low with the feeling of shame and sorrow.
 
shutterstock_1657327087.jpg
A bandsman

After that, the sacred fire's flames gradually went out. Everybody had left the wedding hall. Bholi's father then turned to Bholi and asked her what she would do then. In addition, he says that no one will marry her and asks what they would do with her. Here, Bholi's father was trying to tell her that as her marriage was stopped, no one would marry her anymore.
 
After hearing her father's concern, she said calmly not to worry about her. She told her father that she would take care of him and her mother. In addition, she says that she would teach the children in the same school where she studied. After telling him that, she asked her teacher, who was standing nearby, whether she did right.
 
The teacher was also invited to Bholi's marriage. She also watched the entire scene standing in the wedding hall corner. After hearing Bholi's question, she says that it was right. She approved Bholi's statement. The teacher was deeply satisfied with Bholi's response to the whole situation. It was similar to the way an artist feels when his masterpiece gets completed.
 
From this story, one can understand that Bholi had made a wise decision in her life. If she accepted the greedy man and lived with him, her life would be more horrible than she led in her own house. As she had received proper education, she could survive in this universe by becoming a teacher. It is not only a story; it should be a greater lesson to all the children in the world.
 
Whether you are a girl or boy, getting dowry and giving dowry and insulting others by their looks is a crime. We should treat others will love and care like the way we treat ourselves.
 
Meanings of the difficult words:
 
S.No
Words
Meanings
1
DowncastSad and without hope
2
ShamelessNot ashamed, especially about something generally considered unacceptable
3
IzzatHonour, reputation, or prestige
4
MasterpieceA work of art such as a painting, film, or book that is made with great skill
5
Bandsmen A person who plays a musical instrument in a military band or a brass band
Reference:
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2007). Bholi - K.A. Abbas (pp. 54-62). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.