She is possibly eight, prefers to walk on all fours, and screeches to express herself — much like the monkeys that raised her in Uttar Pradesh’s Katarniyaghat wildlife sanctuary until she was “rescued”.
At the district hospital in Bahraich, where she is learning to be human, the child is lovingly called the “girl Mowgli” — after the much-adored, wolf-raised protagonist of Rudyard Kipling’s iconic children’s tale The Jungle Book.
She was first spotted by villagers foraging in the forests of the sanctuary’s Motipur range in January.
The child was naked with a mop of matted hair, tanned by exposure to the elements, and claw-like nails. She was with a troop of monkeys; and was at ease with her wild family.
The locals informed police about the unusual sighting and a team brought her to civilization.
But the rescue was not easy as the monkeys put up a stiff resistance.
The girl was scared of humans and screamed at anyone approaching her.
“She had wounds on her body. Our priority is to give her proper medical care and look for her parents,” additional superintendent of police Dinesh Tripathi said.
Two months at the Bahraich hospital has helped the girl overcome her fears. A little, of course.
“She was unable to communicate or understood any language. She has spent many years with animals and, so, behaved like them,” said chief medical superintendent DK Singh.
“Now she understands signals and is able to identify the ward boy, nurse and other medical staff. It seems the girl had been abandoned in the forest area at an early age.”
Singh said he had sought help to put the girl in an institution where she could learn human behaviour and language. “But the authorities turned down my request.”
The child is adapting fast to her new environment, though she often gets down on her all fours to move around the ward.
“She recognises hand signs,” said Renu Devi, a health worker looking after Ms Mowgli.
Real-life stories similar to Kipling’s famous tale abound around the world.
A woman in England said last year she had been brought up by monkeys in the jungles of South America after being ditched by child traffickers.
A Ukrainian woman, Oxana Malaya, was rescued from a kennel after being raised by dogs when her alcoholic parents abandoned her as a child. Called a feral child, she behaved like dogs — running on all fours and panting with her tongue out.