Forgotten conjoined twins's family poverty stricken
That turned out to be some six minutes since we started our 'journey' just to find Farah and Saba - the conjoined twins that the world had dumped after turning them into media celebrities for a while two years ago. Richa and Megha Mathur reports.patna Updated: Jul 23, 2011 21:18 IST
Theirs has been a 'famous' existence. But glued to pain. And, sheer poverty.
The house that they inhabit stands at the very end of a narrow, dark, dingy alley in almost slum-like environment - down the Madarsa Road in Raza Bazaar in Patna. Getting a reply to any other address in the area may be a tall order but not about them. "They are well known," says Mohammad Shakoor, a bread maker, as he points, hands arching, asking us to follow the alley as far as it goes.
Just before their house stands a hand pump in the middle of the road. A man is bathing. The road onwards is closed.
That turned out to be some six minutes since we started our 'journey' just to find Farah and Saba - the conjoined twins that the world had dumped after turning them into media celebrities for a while two years ago.
One look, and it is clear that poverty pervades the family. Their father Mohammad Shakeel ekes out a living running a tea stall. And with eight children to take care of, including Saba and Farah, the Rs 5000 he earns a month, allows only for the bare minimum.
One of the two small rooms the family occupies is adorned with a picture of the Holy Kaaba while the other accommodates the kitchen. The children sleep in the first - on the floor.
Mohammad desperately needs help for his conjoined twins. "Either that or we pray for euthanasia," he says as tears well up at the corner of his eye. He suppresses it, quickly.
He remembers, "Five years ago, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed had paid for their visit to American doctor Benjamin Carson to find out how to separate them. It was discovered that the twins shared a crucial blood vessel in the brain and both the kidneys were located in Farah's body."
He was told of the complications and that it could take up to six operations to separate them, each carrying a one in a five chance that one of them would not survive. Shakeel had then decided he would not risk it.
"Five years since then has been one living hell," he says, but the "family is united", even as the girls' condition has grown worse. The two bodies have just two kidneys and that is causing them to suffer weight loss and high blood pressure. The excruciating pain they suffer while awake, sometimes lasts 15 hours.
That had moved their brother Tamanna, 18, to approach chief minister Nitish Kumar in his janata durbar. "But I could not meet him. We desperately need help - medical help, money. We cannot afford the costs", he says.
"Either that or permission to end their life...," Shakeel interjects. "Over the last few months, they have been suffering continuous headaches and body pain. We see no hope," he trails off as other members sob.
The darkness within the non-plastered, humid room is suddenly overwhelming as also in the silence that follows. The weak glow of the single, small dust laden bulb hanging high, just about manages to define the contours of the family members who stand around. Saba and Farah's five sisters are beside them. The parents watch from the edge as Tamanna hands us over a glass of water.
The twins smile and make another wish: "How much we would have liked to meet Salman Khan again. We love him."
The relief to hear them, for the first time, takes away the pain.
But that's not for them.