The calendar-seller of Coles park

Bengalureans turn up to help the calendar-seller of Coles Park who suffers from Elephantiasis

Mehaboob Ahmed’s is a riches-to rags story. Once a realtor, he lost all his fortune a few years ago. These days you will see him selling calendars near Coles Park. His story particularly catches the eye as the 55-yearold has been struggling with odd jobs to feed his family, while suffering from a defect, elephantiasis, which has caused his foot to swell up. With the new year though, there was a brief period in his life when help poured in.

Seeing the man standing there with this ailment daily and standing for hours to sell a few calendars, a good samaritan made a post about him on social media. This got him some attention and many came forward to buy the calendars.

He has a wife and three children, including a visually impaired son, to support back home. Ahmed said that a few years back he was diagnosed with Elephant Foot and had been taking treatment for it but there has been no improvement. “My eldest daughter is 29 and I have been struggling to save up money for her marriage. My wife also has health issues and takes care of my second son, 24, who is visually impared. He has some vision in one eye but still needs help and is dependent on his mother while the youngest son is still studying,” he told Bangalore Mirror.

Lockdown time was particularly tough on the family. “During the lockdown, we had great difficulty to survive as there was no earning for us and post lockdown too, I did not get any work. With my leg condition, I could take only a few jobs as it is difficult for me to walk a lot or stand in one place for long. In November-end, I started selling calendars near Coles Park. Every day, I would go there and stand on the footpath from 7 pm till 11 pm.”

He said that though its very difficult for him to stand for long, he still puts all his efforts to raise some money for his daughter’s wedding and son’s education. “Some persons who bought calendars from me, spoke to me after noticing my leg and asked about it. Some of them even put up stories on social media to help me and some posts had gone viral during the new year. And a lot of people came to buy the calendar from me after seeing the posts,” he said.

The posts helped so much that some days he sold 70 to 80 calendars. “But there have been days when I have sold only 10 calendars. Due to my financial condition and the pandemic, I have stopped the treatment for my leg and have not been taking medicines since almost a year now.”


Dr Jagadish Hiremath, Medical Director of ACE Suhas Multi speciality hospital said that Elephantiasis is a neglected tropical disease (NTD). It’s more common in tropical and subtropical areas of the world, including Africa and Southeast Asia. It’s estimated that 120 million people are afflicted by it. It affects the immune system and people with this condition are also at increased risk for a secondary infection.


Elephant Foot, a mosquito menace that can be cured

Elephantiasis is a disease spread by mosquitoes. Prevention is possible by avoiding mosquitoes or taking precautions to reduce your risk for mosquito bites. Getting rid of mosquito breeding areas, using mosquito nets, applying insect repellents and wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants in areas with mosquitoes are some ways to do that.

“Treatment for elephantiasis includes: antiparasitic drugs, such as diethylcarbamazine (DEC), mectizan, and albendazole. Some things to do: Practise good hygiene to clean the affected areas. Care for wounds in the affected areas and exercise based on a doctor’s directions. Surgery can be done in extreme cases, which may include reconstructive surgery for the affected areas or surgery to remove affected lymphatic tissue. Treatment also includes emotional and psychological support. The most common complication of elephantiasis is disability caused by extreme swelling and enlargement of body parts. The pain and swelling can make it difficult to complete daily tasks or work. In addition, secondary infections are a common concern with elephantiasis,” said Dr Hiremath.

Dr Gunasekar Vuppalapati Medical Director GVG Invivo Hospital said that Elephant Foot is a burden for the person who has to carry it every step, and when it affects the breadwinner of the poor family, it can be socio-economically devastating. It is caused by chronic obstruction to lymphatic drainage of the lower limb.

“But the good news is that now microsurgical techniques in plastic surgery is so advanced that we can give excellent relief unlike two decades ago. Often this chronic lymphaedema is due to filarial parasite infection of Lymph node blocking lymph drainage. In the past, it was accepted that there is no solution and patients must suffer all their lifetimes but only those who are not aware and those who cannot afford treatment continue to suffer. Otherwise, we have treatments such as Microsurgical Nodo-Venous Anastomoses or Lympho-Venous Anastomosis and other conversational supportive treatments. Plastic surgeons can restore normal shape and function,” he said.

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Sagar Biswas

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