By : Narendra Shrestha
Almost 9 years ago, there was a birth of Kaluman Thami’s third child Bhawana Thami in a cow shelter at Dushikharka village of Dolkha district, some 345 kilometers from capital Kathmandu. Father of a two son Kaluman was very happy with the birth of his daughter. However, his joy was short-lived. The reason, Bhawana’s face was half covered with hair. Worst of all, local villagers believed that child must be a witch to be really born with the half hairy face.
It was a tough time.
Mangali Thami, Bhawana’s mother was disappointed and saddened by the belief of the villagers. The society started looking down upon the family. Bhawana was soon old enough to join the school. Her classmates did not leave a chance for a disgrace, calling her witch. Young Bhawana was disheartened by this and wanted to stop going to school. This further worried Kaluman. He started taking Bhawana along with him while pottering in and around villages. Kaluman who was a protective father did not allow Bhawana to look into the mirror.
The news about Bhawana reached the local journalist Rajendra Manandhar who went to look for her. The journalist took her photo and showed it to young Bhawana. Having seen her photo, she ran away, with fear and disgust, along the terraces of the rice fields, perhaps trying to escape from the unbelievable shock.
A potter by profession, Kaluman was unable to afford her medical treatment. With the support of local volunteer Arjun Oli and journalist Manandhar, Kaluman brought Bhawana to Model Hospital in Kathmandu in February 2012. The renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Sankar Man Rai analyzed her and said that it was a hair mole disease that needs immediate operation which would turn into cancer sooner if there was delay in the treatment. On 27th February 2012, she had her first operation where her skin from the thigh was used on her face around the part where there was fair on her face.
A year later on February 2013, she had her second operation. This time the remaining hair from her face was completely removed. After a week of the operation, Dr. Rai removed the bandage from her face and asked her to look herself into the mirror. She was completely taken aback by the result, and for the first time in her life, she looked at herself in the mirror for exactly ten minutes for she looked anew and afresh.
Bhawana is nine years old now. Even though the hair from her face has been completely removed the color of her skin remains to be different from the rest of her face. According to Dr. Rai, she needs to go through Micro Plastic Surgery in order to normalize the operated face with the rest of her skin. While the Micro Plastic Surgery may look like a good prospect, Bhawana whose skin from the chest with the nerves tissues is attached with facial nerves, which may longest hour surgery. And, needs to be at least thirteen years of age to go through this rather difficult operation.
Kaluman who is very happy with the progress of the operation has returned to his village with Bhawana who is changing in her appearance every day. Even the local villagers have accepted him and his daughter. Bhawana is going to school again. The family is happy.
Today Kaluman is waiting for Bhawana to turn thirteen so that she can have the surgery, the day when Bhawana will walk among other children with her clean and clear and head held high.