India’s famous "elephant man" has refused an operation to reconstruct his face, as he needs to pay for his daughter’s wedding – and his disfigurement allows him to beg. Mannan Mondal hits the streets everyday, relying on his “melted” looks to make a living.
The unfortunate Mondal suffers from a rare condition called neurofibromatosis and is at risk of developing tumours on his face. However, the 50-year-old said he did not want surgery, as he needed to make money for his 20-year-old daughter’s forthcoming nuptials. “I will have to buy a lot of things - beds, cabinets, rings, watches and a cycle for the groom," said Mondal, adding: “The money I earn while begging is barely enough to feed my family. But I have no other way to help my daughter. I have to continue like this. I have to think about feeding my family first.”
Mondal says he makes up to £5 a day travelling around India’s Holy Sites. He sends the money back to his family in Kolkata, West Bengal. Last month, plastic surgery specialist Dr Ajay Kashyap examined Mondal and offered to help reconstruct his face, however the “melted man” refused. “If there was an option of getting better without having to pay then I would definitely take it,” he said, “but not now. I have a wedding to think about. I will have to go back home, talk to my family and then decide. But feeding my family will always come first.”
He added: “I have been like this since birth. I was born poor and I had limited options. When I was younger these deformities were much smaller but they have all grown much larger with age. People around me do not treat me very well. They are disgusted by me and don't like me. This is how it has been for years. I have learned to manage like this. For example, I don't use a toothbrush to brush my teeth. I use my fingers as I have only four teeth. I do not have a home. I live on the streets under tents pitched on the footpath and I do not have money to buy land or houses.”