The Tree Man
ABUL BAJANDAR MADE HEADLINES LAST YEAR WITH HIS TREE-LIKE WARTS COVERING HIS LIMBS. NOW, THIS EXTREMELY RARE ILLNESS HAS GIVEN HIM A LIFE HE NEVER EXPECTED
often find themselves frustrated by the fact that injustices remain unchanged, no matter how much they cover the causes and consequences.
And then, once in a while, there are exceptions to this: Abul Bajandar is one of them. At the age of 15, the Bangladeshi adolescent started to suffer from a very strange disease called Epidermodysplasia verruciformis, causing his limbs to sprout tree-like warts. To date, only five cases of this rare disease have been diagnosed globally. “The warts soon covered my hands and legs, so I wasn’t able to work as an autorickshaw driver anymore. I had to beg,” Bajandar recalls.
He became known as the “tree man”. People who encountered him were willing to pay for a selfie with what they saw as a strange creature. The warts kept growing until Bajandar couldn’t feel anything anymore. He wasn’t even able to dress himself. “What I wanted the most was to hug my little daughter, whom I had never touched since she was born,” he says.
Journalists “What I wanted the most was to hug my little daughter, whom I had never touched since she was born”
Then, a story filed by an Agence France-presse reporter changed his fate, and the 28-year-old’s peculiar situation came into the global spotlight. The government stepped in to help. A committee of nine surgeons was established in the capital’s Dhaka Medical College Hospital, where Bajandar went under the knife almost a dozen times. “We still don’t know why this happens,” the head of the committee, Samanta Lal Sen, admits.