By Mirembe Martina
A 12-year-old boy in India has been called a god because of his uniqueness; he grows a tail on his back.
Arshid Ali Khan is now popular in India and his home has been turned into a temple with people travelling across the country to leave gifts by his side and in return, he blesses them. Ali Khan is known as Balaji to his congregation. His followers believe he is the reincarnation of the Hindu monkey-god, Hanuman.
According to legend, this Hindu deity was an ardent devotee of Rama, and was also a central protagonist in the Indian epic, Ramayana, which is an integral part of the Hindu literature and the cornerstone to their religion.
Doctors however contribute the ‘tail’ from a disease which they identified as meningocele, which is a form of spina bifida that sees the spinal cord develop in an abnormal and dangerous fashion. However, the 12-year-old Balaji has refused this.
“I love my tail. It’s a gift from God. It’s unusual but people respect me and bow before me because of it. I feel special,” the boy said. Doctors insist that if he remains untreated and the ‘tail’ is not removed, his condition will only worsen and he could die of his injuries.
Ali lives with his maternal grandfather, 62-year-old Iqbal Qureshi, two unmarried maternal uncles and their three sisters. His father Raj Mohammad, a mason, died four years ago and mother Salma remarried and lives with her husband. “We don’t ask people to donate money. We accept whatever they give. He (Arshad Ali) fulfills their wishes. He has been blessed with special powers by the almighty,” says Qureshi.
The tail makes it difficult for Ali to walk and defecate. “Doctors scared us saying the removal of the tail will pose threat to his life. They asked Ali’s mother to sign a document which she refused,” Qureshi said. Arshid also has problems in his leg muscles which have confined him to sitting.