The million-dollar smile, which contributed so much to the Oscar success of Megan Mylan’s Smile Pinki, was completely missing from the face of documentary's eight-year-old US-returned protagonist Pinki Sonkar, when she landed at Varanasi airport on Saturday afternoon. Instead, there were tears in her eyes. Reason: she was missing her mother Shimla Devi.
“I have to rush to my mother. Please hurry up. I will neither talk nor give any pictures to photographers,” said little Pinki this evening, skipping a press conference to rush to her mother in Rampur Dabahi village of Mirzapur district late on Saturday evening.
A day after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s wife Gursharan Kaur in New Delhi, Pinki arrived with daily-wager father Rajendra Sonkar and Dr Subodh Singh (who successfully operated her cleft lip in 2007 at Varanasi) at Varanasi Airport by a Jet Airways flight from New Delhi this afternoon.
At Varanasi airport, amid the beat of nagaras (drums), she was welcomed with shower of flowers by BJP MLA Ajai Rai and ex-MP from Varanasi, Rajnath Sonkar Shastri.
Other prominent people also welcomed Pinki, once teased as Hothkatawi (cleft-lipped) by her friends at the Sagaha Primary School near her village.
Pinki, her father and Dr Singh then sped to the G.S. Memorial Hospital, where parents of children with cleft lips awaiting surgery under the Smile Train Project welcomed her with flowers, garlands and dances.
But Pinki remained silent and morose, and even wept for a while. Dr Singh said: “Jetlag, a mild fever and the long absence from her mother’s side has contributed to her sad mood.”
A report from Mirzapur said, in Pinki’s village, preparations were on in full swing to welcome their famous daughter with gulal, dhol-nagara as well as DJ music.
A parikrama of the village, followed by a darshan of Goddess Durga at the local temple were also on the cards.
Pinki’s mother Shimla Devi said special dal, rice, chapatis and vegetables have been prepared for Pinki.