| Rajendra (extreme left) with wife and sons at his home in Motihari. Picture by Ajit Kumar Verma |
The hapless father in Rajendra Prasad can only hope for a miracle to save his three sons from meeting the tragic end like Paa.
Paa, the 2009 film starring Amitabh Bachchan, might have sent a message of concern for persons suffering from progeria worldwide but it could hardly move health or district administration officials to help Rajendra, once the owner of a small studio.
The professional photographer, a resident of Baniapatti Chowk in Motihari town, had to sell off his studio and also his share of ancestral property to meet the treatment expenses of his sons — Ishu (9) and six-year-old twins Guru and Dev.
His eldest son Armaan (15) is, however, normal and healthy. “I don’t know the destiny but doctors have told me the syndrome is incurable,” said Rajendra, almost in tears.
At the time of birth, the trio were quite normal but when they turned three, their skin gradually started shrivelling up as in old people, he said.
Experts have claimed that progeria is not hereditary but a genetic condition that can occur only in 1 in 8 million live births.
Rajendra said Ishu started trembling and falling at the age of two in 2006 but soon after he started standing and walking. Initially, local doctors suspected it a case of polio and accordingly started treatment.
However, it hardly could bring any relief to Ishu, he added. “Instant cure is perhaps a rare one. In the country of over 100 crore people, I’ve never heard three in the same family suffer from progeria. What should I call it, my fate or destiny?” he said, lamenting: “I’ve not got any help either from the people’s representatives or the government.”
Rajendra, whose wife has turned into a chronic cardiac patient for the past few years, said: “His ailment was not even detected at the AIIMS, New Delhi. An Australian doctor, visiting the Udaipur-based Narayan Seva Sansthan for a short time in December 2007, detected their condition first but unfortunately he too had no medicine for its cure. Before that, I also consulted doctors at Banaras Hindu University and Fidai Shafakhana, Ghaziabad. At present, they are admitted to Dr Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, New Delhi.”
For several months and years, Rajendra tried to put up a brave face but he is losing his inner strength with days. “Reality is bitter than anyone can even imagine,” he rued.