- Santosh Kumari is from a remote village in Madhya Pradesh, central India
- She is smaller than the average 4-year-old because of her case of dwarfism
- Local villagers adore her, but she feels left out and desires a companion
A 28-year-old woman who is just 2ft 8in (83cm) tall fears she will never get married because is mistaken for a toddler.
Santosh Kumari, from a remote village in Madhya Pradesh, India, is smaller than the average four-year-old because of her extreme case of dwarfism.
Strangers mistake Miss Kumari, who is a tailor and is known for stitching dresses, for a preschooler because of her tiny limbs and pint-sized frame.
Villagers adore her, but she feels left out and desires a companion – even though she has accepted it will never happen.
Miss Kumari said: ‘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.’
Speaking to local journalists, Miss Kumari added: ‘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 the 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.’
Miss Kumari’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, Mr Meena senses her pain.
The casual labourer who works in farms has tried finding a match for his sister, but no-one was keen on marrying her after hearing about her height.
Mr Meena 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 stitching 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.’
Miss Kumari was born a healthy child and grew normally until the age of three. But her family said she stopped growing once she started walking.
Mr Meena, who makes just £3 a day, 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.’
With time and no treatment Miss Kumari has accepted herself and doesn’t wish to see any more doctors.
Her only worry is to live healthy so she can continue stitching dresses and living an independent life in absence of a spouse to look after her