40-year-old Indian teacher with rare syndrome mistaken for 13-year-old
Pinky Bahroos won’t let her missing chromosome stop her from living a happy and full life.
The 40-year-old teacher from Gujarat in India, who suffers from Turner’s syndrome, has often been humiliated and laughed at because the disease makes her look like a young teen.
Turner’s syndrome is a disease in which a woman has only one X chromosome, which affects their physical development.
Pinky – who’s only 1,46m tall and weighs only 32kgs – is often asked to prove her age before entering clubs and cinema halls.
She’s been mistaken for a child while applying for jobs and her nephew’s friends think Pinky is his cousin.
But despite her condition at one point leading to depression, she still considers herself lucky to be alive.
“Just 1% of babies with Turner’s syndrome actually live as most of them die prematurely before their birth. I feel immensely lucky to have not only survived but living a fulfilling life,” Pinky says.
She’s the eldest daughter of Mohan (68) and Bhagwanti Bahroos (65) and had a normal growth rate until the age of 13.
It was only after one summer vacation that her parents noticed their daughter wasn’t like other girls in her class. She wasn’t growing as she should for her age. After they consulted a doctor, a slew of tests were conducted and she was diagnosed with Turner’s syndrome.
“It was the most difficult thing to accept,” she said.
“I was like any normal girl, happy and enjoying my teens but then one day I saw a blue file hidden in the cupboard. My parents had hidden it from me because they were too shocked and devastated by the result of my tests.
“It was a thick file and all the results were positive until I reached the last page. It said I had an X chromosome missing.
“I couldn’t understand what it meant. Did it mean I’m not a girl? Did it mean I wasn’t normal?”
Pinky accepted her condition and kept on living her life.
But she soon had to face the truth when her friends, who’d grown up with her, thought she wasn’t grown enough to be part of the circle.
“They all were very nice to me. They weren’t aware of my condition but they thought I’m just tiny. They’d talk to me nicely but soon I noticed they wouldn’t include me in mature talks.
“As I grew I realised my circle of friends had thinned. I was even asked to address girls in my class as ‘didi’ or elder sister.”
Recalling one moment at a sports day, Pinky said she’d taken part in a race but soon found herself behind everyone.
“I was behind all the participants. I saw the audience and I thought they’d feel pity on me. That was the last time I participated in any competition. I was too weak physically and couldn’t match up to girls my age.”
College wasn’t easy for Pinky, but the biggest blow came when her younger sister Simran got married.
Pinky said she was happy for her sister, but felt sad she couldn’t also get married.
“Aunties at the function asked me why I wasn’t getting married whereas my younger sister was. I was asked what was wrong with me.
“It was during that time that I couldn’t help but break out into tears.”
Her depression lasted for a year, which saddened her parents greatly.
It was only after a lengthy discussion with them that Pinky remembered the importance of living and she says she hasn’t looked back since.
Eventually she landed a job at a travel agency in Dubai where her father was also working. But it wasn’t a plum position.
“I was given the task of printing copies! I didn’t complain though and was dedicated. My hard work was gradually noticed and I was soon given the job of handling sales.”
But sadly after working for 12 years Pinky was forced to return to India because her bones had started weakening. Turner’s syndrome had led to osteoporosis.
“I’m 40 but my bones are like of an 80 year old,” she said.
Once in India, Pinky had to start from the scratch.
Her deteriorating health also meant she couldn’t work for eight hours, so she joined FasTracKids, a school based on the US curriculum.
She’s been teaching creative programmes to kids between three and eight and has devoted the rest of her time to enhancing her speaking and poetry writing.
“I’ve got meaning in life now. I’ve started teaching little kids. I enjoy them. I can also focus on writing poetry, which helps me to express my feelings.”
Pinky has now penned her journey in a book called Finding the Chromosome, which will be on the shelves later this month.
“I’m excited. I can’t wait to see the response to my work,” she says.
Sources: Magazine Features