The plight of two abandoned sisters moved superstar Amitabh Bachchan enough for him to react, but failed to change the heart of their mother, who had left them at a school here in the state capital and vanished. The kids still face a bleak future.
Wishing to ensure proper upbringing of Anjali, 11, and Rimjhim, 12; the superstar had decided to give cheques of Rs. 1 lakh each for their upkeep, way back in 2008.
Somehow the mother, Shikha Pandey got wind of the charity. She attended the function held for this purpose at Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh (UP) during the foundation laying ceremony of a girl's college named after Big B's daughter-in-law, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.
Pandey coolly pocketed the aid and disappeared again, leaving behind her children. Five years have passed since, and she has not even bothered to enquire about them.
The startling story dates back to October 12, 2006, when Pandey admitted her daughters to Shanti Niketan School located at Jagat Narayan Road in the city.
Its principal Avineshwar Prasad Singh says, "At the time Anjali was just 5, while Rimjhim was 6 years old. They were enrolled in lower and upper kindergarten, respectively. Their mother requested for some discount on admission and monthly fees, saying, she would return soon to take the kids back. That never happened."
Stuck with the kids, Singh, a 61-year-old affable man, didn't shoo away the innocent children. He kept them at the school, arranged for their stay, food, clothes, studies and took over their responsibility.
"Two years passed without any trace of Pandey. When regional television channels learnt about it and aired news on the sisters, and how they miss their mother, the then Samajwadi Party leader, Amar Singh took up the matter and requested Bachchan to look after two helpless children. The Bollywood star called the girls along with the school principal on the occasion of the bhumi pujan ceremony of Aishwarya Girl's College in UP," Singh added.
It was at this juncture that Pandey resurfaced. She gave the excuse that her husband was in jail and she was facing severe financial problems.
"We were convinced and took her with us to meet Bachchan. She received the cheques and then went missing again. We searched her all over, but could not trace her. The address given by her at Kalam Bagh locality in Muzaffarpur district turned out to be false. We then realised that she had been just lying to us," added the principal.
The man has been spending up to Rs. 4,000 per month on both the girls every month. He has only one complaint - Bachchan had said that he would bear the cost of their education, but forgot to even enquire about the kids.
"As for the mother, we all are deeply hurt by her behaviour. How can any woman do this to her own children," he adds.