Guinness or not, give us a life

Guinness or not, give us a life

LIfes like that

When Metrolife went looking for Rose Durai Pullan and his family, for this story, not only were they well-known in their JJ Colony in Wazirpur, they were referred to as ‘angrez’ by their neighbours when we asked around for them. Trust us, it wasn’t meant in a complimentary manner either.

Pullan, 50, and his family of 7 are different not by choice but by nature’s design. They are Indian at heart and in mind, but treated differently - read second class citizens, even in their own country. Their fault? The whole family is ‘Albino’, the largest family in the world to be so afflicted. It is for the same reason that they are being considered for the Guinness Book of World Records. 

Originally from Tamil Nadu, Rose Durai lives with wife, Mani, 45 and their six children. The couple has three sons - Vijay (25), Shankar (24); Ram Kishan (18) and three daughters Renu (22), Deepa (20) and Puja (17). While Renu is married to an Albino husband and has given birth to an albino child and lives in Mumbai, her youngest brother Ram Kishan lives in the Blind School and is a student of Class X. 

Though the whole world is talking about their shot at fame - for the world record, they are eking out a bare existence on a day-to-day basics. Frankly, they couldn’t really be bothered about world acclaim at this point, unless it would mean something more than just a citation.  Says Puja, “We are happy and have heard a lot about the Guinness record but our concern is actually money. We are surviving hand-to-mouth.” 

With a daily income of Rs 150 (made from selling boiled eggs), the family is going through tough times, to say the least. 

But it isn’t for lack of working hard, that none have jobs. They are paying a cost for their disease, primarily a genetic disorder which is caused by deficiency of melanin - the substance which provides colour to the skin. Albinism affects the eyes, leading to blindness; and since decreased levels of melanin provide protection from ultra-violet rays it also leads to the skin getting easily sun-burned. In effect, it means that they cannot go out to work when it is very hot - especially not in a place like Delhi where temperatures can soar to 45-46 degrees celsius in summer.  

Despite this problem each of the children want to complete their studies and improve their chances of getting a job. Vijay reveals that he has not been able to complete his “graduation due to financial problems but I have taken a course in computers last year. I am still struggling for a job. I face rejection because of my low eyesight. Our eyesight is so poor that I and Shankar attended Blind School.” 

The rejection is not a new experience though. The family has been facing discrimination since Rose Durai and Mani married in 1982. He tried getting jobs in the government sector but every medical report led him back to joblessness. 

It isn’t like the family hasn’t tried other avenues. They were alloted a PCO booth by the MCD (under the quota for the handicapped - even though they are not handicapped), just off Inderlok Metro Station in 1994 but when the construction began, they were asked to leave - by other shopkeepers, belonging to another community.   

“Guinness is important, yes, but it would be better if someone were to highlight our condition. I don’t know about the albino family of six in US or Canada, but for us being Albino was always tough because of the related health problems.”

It is hard to keep up a cheerful facade but they try. Deepa is in Ist year pursuing BA at Laxmibai College and Shankar is studying Political Science (Hons) from Satyawati College. “We do feel embarrassed when people ask us about our looks and taunt us but we also have some nice friends who help us cope with this discrimination.” 

No one in their family so far is married to a non-albino person but Vijay expresses his desire to get married to a normal girl and lead a normal life.

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