By Taniya Dutta
A 28-year-old woman who stands just 33 inches tall says she has lost all hopes of getting married as people mistake her for a toddler.
Santosh Kumari is almost 30 -but is the same height as a four-year-old.
She has tiny limbs and wobbly walk which can mean she’s often mistaken for a preschooler.
But despite her pint-size frame Santosh lives an active life, performing every task on her own.
She makes her living as a tailor and is known for stitching beautiful dresses for women and children in the village where she lives in India.
Because of her cuteness and intelligence, villagers adore her.
But Santosh confesses despite all the love and adulation, she feels left out and misses a companion in her life.
Santosh said: “Everyone loves me in the village. I don’t have to face criticism.
“There were children who would at times mock at me or call me by names when I was young. But now everyone talks to me politely and respects me for my being.
“They come to me for designing clothes and discussing latest fashion. I enjoy all the attention but I do not have many friends.
“Most of the women in the village who are of my age are either married or about to get married but I know I can ever feel that happiness.
“I miss a companion in my life but have no hopes of finding one ever. I am too short and no one wants to marry me.”
Santosh’s desperation is palpable also because her younger brother Mahavir Meena, 23, is a married man with one child.
For a community where elder sisters are married off first, Mahavir senses Santosh’s pain.
The casual labour who works in farms says he had tried finding a match for his sister but no one was keen on marrying her after hearing about her height.
Mahavir said: “She is a fantastic woman and can do everything on her own. She doesn’t rely on us for anything. She is a wonderful tailor and makes beautiful clothes. It was only her determination and zeal for life that she learnt to stitch on her own and now earns for herself.
“We have tried looking for a suitor for her but no one comes forward because of her height. Now we don’t bother about finding a man for her. She lives an independent life and we are happy to have her.”
Born to Ram Swaroop Meena, 51, and Dwarka Bai, 46, from Shahopur village in Madhya Pradesh in central India, Santosh suffers from an extreme case of dwarfism.
She was born a healthy child and grew normally until the age of three. But her family said she stopped growing once she started walking.
Mahavir said: “She was like any other child. Healthy and grew normally but when she started walking her growth stopped.
“For first few years we thought she has a slow growth and did not worry much because she was playing and eating properly. After she turned ten, we started worrying because she hadn’t grown even an inch taller.
“We had consulted a lot of local doctors but they recommended us to take her to big hospitals in cities for treatment.
“But we have no money and somehow make our ends meet. Big doctors will ask for a lot of fee that we cannot afford,” added Mahavir who makes just £3 a day and feeds the family of six.
With time and no treatment Santosh has accepted herself and doesn’t wish to see any more doctors. Her only worry is to live healthy so she can continue stitching and living an independent life in absence of a spouse to look after her.
Santosh says: “I have accepted my fate. I understand I cannot grow tall anymore or get married. All I want is to continue living happily and hone my stitching skills so I can one day open a shop. At the moment I stitch at home but I want to start a shop someday.”