As if having a beard and moustache was not bad enough, 16-year-old Laxmi Shrestha of Tanahu also has to deal with teeth that fall off and grow back every year. While the psychological pain of being different from other girls has always been difficult, Laxmi also has problems eating. The ninth-grader also does not have the luxury of staying at home, she runs a tea-shop-the only source of income for her mother and a brother. Laxmi's case is of interest to medical researchers, who say they can't make any conclusions or suggest antidotes without further study.
Kathmandu dentist Sushil Koirala has offered free treatment in Kathmandu if someone offers to pay for her food and accommodation. Laxmi's mother is distraught. "Her life has been very painful," she says. "When she was born, people thought she was a freak." Laxmi herself is a girl of few words. She scours her library for poetry, occasionally writing some herself but is reluctant to share her work with anyone. Laxmi has never dared to dream that she would ever be 'normal'. All she wants out of life is to buy a sewing machine: "I want to make clothes and earn my living."