“Once upon a time there lived a farmer.”
“Farmer, who is a farmer?” he asked her.
“A farmer is a person who grows food-grains. The food we eat is because of his hard labour.”
“Anyway, so once upon a time in a village there lived a farmer. He had a daughter named Bholi.
“Are you awake?”, she asked him with half-closed eyes. Maybe slumber was pouring its effect on her too.
“No”, he replied. He was almost asleep. She went to sleep too.
He had been waiting for this morning for so long that he was overjoyed to see the first ray of light at dawn. Birds began to chirp, announcing the break of dawn and the beginning of a perfect day. He knew it was too early to be up but he had waited for this day for so long. He prepared for it for twelve long years and finally it was here.
Today his daughter was going to get married to a rich man. He was wondering if there could ever be a miracle more wonderful than this. He had every reason to think so because giving birth to a daughter in his village was considered to be a sin. That was the era when people held a common belief that having a daughter in the house was a disgrace.
Memories flooded his mind. He was happy because his daughter Bholi was going to have her own family. His dream would come true when his grandchildren would come running to him and hug him.
He lost himself in his dreams and memories and his eyes were now brimming with tears of joy and sorrow.
“Today is your daughter’s marriage, right?” An elderly village man asked him.
“Han kaka ( Yes, uncle ).”
“Then what are you doing here? Go, see the arrangements.”
Lights, decorations, sounds, the excitement in children, and the regular marriage chaos was making him happy from the inside.
The groom came and he followed all the rituals as directed by the pandit.
Cancer had caused the death of Bholi’s mother five years ago. She wept as she thought of the past about how her mother talked about her marriage. The in-laws were ready to take her to their house.
There was a wide smile on the farmer’s face and tears in his eyes. He was completely unaware of what was to come.
As Bholi was about to bid farewell to her father, she realized that he was missing. No one knew where he had gone. Everyone looked for him but failed. She also looked for her father who had crossed every hurdle, educated her of morals and ethics, sent her to school and what not but he was absent when the time of goodbyes came.
“Baaabaaaaaaaa” She shouted.
She heard faint footsteps and soon noticed a figure in the dark.
It was him for sure. She walked towards him and what she saw next left her petrified. She quickly ran towards the bending figure and caught him in his arms.
The last thing she heard was his father’s trembling voice which said, “Be happy in your new life.” She was surrounded by hundreds of people. White foam dripped from her dead father’s mouth.
The inability to return the hefty amount of money that he borrowed from a money-lender for his daughter’s marriage made him give up his life.
She woke up shocked reminiscing about the dream she saw. Tears trickled down her cheeks.
“Mom, what happened to the farmer and his daughter Bholi?”
“Story time is over dear! Go, get ready for school because you have to be a rich man, not a farmer,” she said, thinking about the past and her father.
Nikhil Bhardwaj | Edited by Aditi Dhasmana