After Rinki gave birth to her first daughter Shilpi, they were quick to build their family, but when Anjali, their second, was just six months old she was rushed to hospital with pneumonia.
‘After she recovered from, the moisture in her body just seemed to dry up and her skin loosened,’ added Shatrughan. ‘We took her back to our doctor at a government hospital but they said there’s no cure for her and her life was in the lord’s hand.’
They added they will let me know if there’s a cure but I never heard from them again. Ever since she’s aged very quickly.’
But five years later Shatrughan and Rinki decided to have another child, a boy Keshav was born, and in time they noticed he too suffered the same condition as his sister.
‘We haven’t taken Keshav to any doctor because we know he has the same as his sister,’ Shatrughan said. ‘We’re a poor family and doctor visits are expensive. They couldn’t do anything for Anjali so we knew they couldn’t do anything for Keshav either.’
Their sister Shilpi, 11, is very protective of her siblings – and said: ‘I hate it when people tease them.I get very upset but there’s nothing I can say, what do I say back to these cruel kids? I will be here for them forever but I just wish them the best education so that they are never dependent on anyone for anything as they grow up. I will teach them to be strong.’
Anjali already experiences ailments usually suffered by pensioners. Her joints hurt, she has breathing issues, her skin is sagging and her eye sight is poor. And due to her low immunity she picks up illnesses quickly.
The children’s condition is similar to the story of Hollywood film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, in which Brad Pitt’s character is born as an old man and ages in reverse, growing younger during the film.
While Anjali goes to school and is very aware of her unusual condition, Keshav is too young to notice.
Mother Rinki, 35, said: ‘I massage Anjali’s legs all the time, she’s always in pain. It breaks my heart to see my kids this way. Anjali keeps asking when will she be like her sister. She’s very much aware and is affected by her appearance.’
Shatrughan spends over 500 Rupees (£5) a month on homeopathic treatment for Anjali and Keshav but it doesn’t seem to be having much affect.
‘I can just about afford homeopathic medicines which I hope eases their ailments but I just can’t afford allopathic medicines,’ he added.
‘I just hope someone can give us some answers. I am helpless. I feel very sad that I do not know what to do to help my children. I see them ageing faster than me and there is nothing I can do about it. It breaks my heart. I am praying for a miracle.’
Dr Kailash Prasad, a child specialist at a government hospital in Ranchi examined the siblings and said: ‘This looks like a genetic disease and most likely to be Progeria.