Vani was humming a song and her twin sister, Veena, was looking at a small mirror at their room in a state-run shelter of Hyderabad’s Ameerpet neighbourhood on Monday.
“Bheegi bheegi sadkon pe main/Tera intezaar karun/Dheere dheere dil ki zameen ko/Tere hi naam karun…” her voice wafts through the Telangana women and child welfare department’s home.
The 13-year-old Vani might not be aware of the context of the romantic song from the film Sanam Re.., but surely she must be aware of the changes in her body.
- Vani and Veena were born on September 15, 2003 in Warangal with their heads conjoined
- Taken to Guntur General Hospital for examination by Dr Yarlagadda Nayudamma, a surgeon renowned for separation of Siamese twins
- Even before Dr Nayudamma examined their case, the parents abandoned the twins
- Operation ruled out after the experts felt it would lead to death of one child or both
- In 2006, they were shifted to the Niloufer Hospital
- In 2007, doctors from Breach Candy Hospital, Mumbai, offered to conduct the surgery, but threw up their hands later
- In 2010, doctors from Singapore came forward to take the risk, but they could not get the consent from the parents.
- Doctors from UK agreed to examine them in February 2015 and they said there was an 80 per cent chance of survival following the surgery.
- A team of doctors from AIIMS visited Hyderabad in December 2015 to examine the kids and finally ruled out surgery
- A team of Australian doctors is presently studying the case
Vani and Veena are conjoined twins, who had been staying at an exclusive ward under special care at Niloufer Hospital since 2006. They have been shifted to the state home early on New Year’s Day.
“The sisters attained puberty some time ago. They are no more kids. That is precisely why the authorities have shifted them from the hospital to the state home, where girls of their age stay,” said Somasekharamma, in-charge of the shelter.
Their new home has provided than a spacious room with a semi-circular bed. There are toys, comics and other books, besides a television set. Changes were made in the washroom too.
“They have not complained, or showed any signs of homesickness,” the in-charge said.
Welcome boards were put up in the room to cheer up the girls and they cut a new year cake too.
Their parents, N Murali and Nagalakshmi, are poor labourers from Beerusettigudem in Warangal district and had virtually abandoned the girls in the past because of their financial condition. They are apparently unhappy with the shifting of the twins.
For their part, the twins are preparing to begin a new chapter.
“The hospital was good … this place is also good. We went around the park in the campus and it is nice. We also made new friends,” Veena said.
They are aware why they were brought to a new place.
“We know. Children above 13 cannot stay in that hospital. But we were told whenever we need treatment we will be taken to the hospital,” Vani explained.
Specialists from New Delhi-based AIIMS have ruled out separation of the twins through surgery as it is too risky. But a team of doctors from Australia said surgery could be tried. “The team’s response is awaited,” a doctor at Niloufer hospital said.