Treatment for brother was in vain
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