When Kuli Kohli was born ‘Neighbors tried to throw her in the river’ due to her disability. Instead her parents brought her to the UK where she is now pursuing her passion for poetry.
Kuli Kohli was born in a remote village in Uttar Pradesh, Northern India. Soon after she was born, people began to realize she wasn’t like other kids. Due to the lack of education in her village, people did not know the child had Cerebral Palsy.
“People thought I was a strange girl because I was different. Pretty much as soon as I was born, people would tell my mother to get rid of me because nobody would marry a girl like this,” she says. Some ‘Neighbors tried to throw her in the river,’ Kholi added.
“I was too young to remember but my aunt who lived with us told me that my body was like a rag doll.”
Some neighbors argued she should be thrown in the river.
“But I was literally saved by my father. He physically had to intervene to stop my body from being taken from our home and discarded like an object,” says Kuli. “He saved my life and stood up for me.”
Kholi’s parents resisted and moved to the UK
In the 1970s an influx of South Asian migrants came to the UK and Kuli’s family joined them. She was two-and-a-half when they arrived in Wolverhampton in 1973, her father found work as a bus driver.
During her childhood years, she began to express her feelings in writing. It was at Penn Hall Special School that Kuli first found poetry.
“The teachers used to read us poetry and I enjoyed listening to it,” she says.
“Then I started to write poetry as a form of relief and a kind of therapy. I enjoyed making words rhyme and writing about my emotions and feelings.”
“I wrote for pleasure as well as relief,” she says. “I may not have been able-bodied, but I was of an able mind. I felt, thought, and saw like everybody else. It made me feel powerful.”
Kuli then set up a Punjabi Women’s Writers Group in Wolverhampton. Meeting once a month in the city’s Central Library, it gives Punjabi women a safe place to express their emotions freely.