BHOPAL: This family in Kawla village of the tribal-dominated Betul district in Madhya Pradesh does not seem unusual at first glance. Until you take a closer look at their hands or feet. Owing to a genetic anomaly, all 25 of its members were born with more than 10 fingers and toes.
The origin of this genetic anomaly in the Yevale family who are small-time farmers can be traced to its 69-year-old matriarch, Thako Bai. She was born with polydactyly – a congenital disorder leading to supernumerary fingers and toes.
The anomaly has been replicated in Thako Bai's sons, Baldev, 50, Balraj, 47, and Pandhari, 44, and their children. Her daughters Gaura and Sakhu too have been born with the same condition which has also been transmitted to their children.
The excess fingers and toes, however, are soft tissues and can be surgically removed.
According to Thako Bai’s eldest son Baldev, “Among her six siblings, my mother Thako Bai was the only child born with more than 20 fingers. It prompted her parents and kin to treat her as a special gift from god and the anomaly instead of being a hurdle to her marriage actually saw her being married without dowry.”
The same has happened with Thako Bai’s two daughters Gaura and Sakhu, who too have been married in adjoining Khandwa district without dowry.
On the contrary, Thako Bai’s three sons have been married with great difficulty owing to the genetic anomaly.
The genetic deformity has also seen the children of Baldev and his brothers turn into objects of ridicule in school, owing to which some of them had to drop out midway.
“My children went to school but they did not get to complete their education. School students used to tease my children. I seek help from the government. I don’t have much land. We are very poor," Baldev said.
His son Santosh said that he was unable to complete his education due to his condition and is now unable to get any job. "I have studied till Class 10. Normal slippers and shoes do not fit my feet," said Santosh.