The Treatment of Bibi Haldar (Lahiri)

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The Treatment of Bibi Haldar
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A woman suffering from an unknown ailment was abandoned by her family and left to live in a storage room. After being assaulted and becoming pregnant, she started a business and raised her child.

Bibi Haldar, a 29-year-old woman, suffered from an unexplained ailment that puzzled everyone in her town.

Bibi Haldar — narrator; suffers from an unknown ailment; naive, loud, and desperate for a husband.

Despite numerous attempts to cure her, including various medical treatments and religious rituals, her condition remained unchanged. Her illness, which could strike at any moment, confined her to the building where she lived with her cousin Haldar and his wife.

Haldar — Bibi's cousin; owns a cosmetics shop; indifferent, dismissive.
Haldar's Wife — Haldar's wife; heavy, pregnant, and fearful of Bibi's condition.

She was tasked with recording inventory for Haldar's cosmetics shop and was given meals and clothing in return.

Bibi's condition worsened and she was moved to a storage room on the roof of the building. Despite her isolation, Bibi remained hopeful of finding a husband.

"I ask you, is it fair for a girl to sit out her years, pass neglected through her prime, listing labels and prices without promise of a future?"

However, Haldar and his wife were against the idea, believing that Bibi was unfit for marriage. They even placed an advertisement in the newspaper seeking a husband for Bibi, but received no responses.

When Haldar's wife became pregnant, she feared that Bibi's presence would harm the baby. Bibi was moved permanently to the storage room. Haldar's business suffered due to the town's disapproval of their treatment of Bibi, and they eventually moved away, leaving Bibi alone in the storage room.

Months later, Bibi was found pregnant. She gave birth to a son and refused to reveal the identity of the father. After the birth, Bibi's health improved and she started selling the leftover inventory from Haldar's shop. She used the profits to restock the shelves and continued to run the business, raising her son in the storage room. Despite the town's curiosity about the identity of the father, Bibi remained silent and appeared to be cured of her ailment.