Treat­ment for brother was in vain

Friday - - Society -

Laxmi Ya­dav tucks into a break­fast of paran­tha and yo­gurt be­fore comb­ing her waist-length hair, grab­bing her bag and rush­ing out the door to work as a sales as­sis­tant in a lo­cal clothes store. To a few peo­ple, she is a reg­u­lar 20-year-old ca­reer woman. But to many, she looks like a five-year-old hur­ry­ing for a first day at school. Stand­ing just one me­tre tall (3ft 3in), Laxmi is in fact serv­ing a life sen­tence – a woman for­ever trapped in a child’s tiny body.

Weigh­ing 19kg (three stone), she has a rare growth hor­mone dis­or­der that has robbed her of a nor­mal life. “I haven’t grown an inch since I was five,’’ says Laxmi, who lives in Gur­gaon, near In­dia’s cap­i­tal Delhi.

She has watched all her friends be­come wives and moth­ers but as­pects of her life have stopped, frozen at the age of five. “I’ve watched all my friends grow, while I’ve been left be­hind in many ways,’’ says Laxmi. “My good friends have al­ways tried to in­clude me in ev­ery­thing, like tak­ing me along for movies or for a lunch out, but there are mo­ments when I feel very lonely be­cause no­body un­der­stands what it is like to be trapped in a child’s body.’’

Apart from the jibes and ridicule she has to face due to her height, she is also con­demned to a life filled with fear. “I’ve been bul­lied by some peo­ple in my neigh­bour­hood all my adult life for be­ing small,” she says. “Some peo­ple poke fun at my body and stature. But what I re­ally fear is that I might be harmed. I rarely go out as I’m scared some­body might hurt me.

“Once, a child from our com­mu­nity was ab­ducted and taken away in a van. I’ve been ter­ri­fied ever since and with such in­ci­dents be­com­ing com­mon in In­dia, if I see a van lurk­ing around I run home in fear.’’

When Laxmi does go out, she is al­ways ac­com­pa­nied by her par­ents or sis­ter. Laxmi’s dad Ba­hadur Singh, 58, earns Rs8,000 (Dh463) a month as a fac­tory se­cu­rity guard, nowhere near the Rs66,000 doc­tors said would be needed for growth hor­mone treat­ment, which could have helped counter Laxmi’s con­di­tion if ad­min­is­tered be­fore she turned 16 or 17. Sadly Laxmi is not the only one in her fam­ily who suf­fers from the con­di­tion. Her elder brother Azad Ya­dav, 22, stopped grow­ing at the age of six. To­day he is just 91cm (3ft) tall.

“We pooled all our sav­ings to ad­mit him to a lo­cal city hos­pi­tal where doc­tors con­ducted tests and gave him some med­i­ca­tion, but noth­ing helped,’’ says Ba­hadur.

“So when Laxmi was di­ag­nosed with the same prob­lem we did not bother tak­ing her

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