Mother reappeared in the lives of Rimjhim and Anjali only to rob them of Amitabh Bachchan’s charity

When one starts to cry the other can’t hold back her tears. Left alone in a big bad world, two sisters Rimjhim, 12 years, and Anjali, 11 years, have seen only the worst of life in their tender years. Even superstar Amitabh Bachchan, who helps many make a fortune on his game show, could not make a dent in their plight. Abandoned by their mother and cheated of charity, their fate now hangs by a thread.

Rimjhim and Ajnali were very little when, in October 2006, their mother Shikha Pandey brought them to Patna from their home in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district, got them admitted to the city’s Shantiniketan school-cum hostel and left. She appeared a month later to pay the fees and never came back.

“We do not want to see our mother. She beat my sister. She would say that she’d kill us and take our money. We have never got mother’s love,” little Anjali told The Hindu.

The story of the two sisters, left with no one to look after them, made its mark in the media and struck a chord with none other than the Big B. In 2008, he invited the two sisters to Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh, where the Bachchan family was starting a school in the name of Aishwarya Rai. Mr. Bachchan was to offer Rs. 2 lakh to the sisters at a function held to lay the foundation stone for the school.

Abandonment, theft, threats

“When their mother heard about the offer from Mr. Bachchan, she came back,” Abhishek Kumar, son of the school principal Abineshwar Prasad Singh, told The Hindu.

“My father and some media persons accompanied the two sisters and their mother to Barabanki, where the mother received a cheque for Rs. 2 lakh on behalf of her daughters,” he said.

However, to the horror of the sisters, their mother made off with the money. The event generated a lot of good press. But for the sisters, nightmare had begun afresh.

“We were in touch with the mother for a couple of months after the function, but she kept avoiding us. She said she was very busy. When my father took [the sisters] to their home district in Muzaffarpur, the address turned out to be a fake one,” Mr. Abhishek said.

The school authorities later got in touch with Shikha Pandey, who said she was in Darbhanga, and offered to bring the children to her. “However, she started to threaten my father saying he is never to call her again. And after that her she could not be reached on the phone either,” said Mr. Abhishek.

Since then, Rimjhim and Anjali have been living on the goodwill of the school principal. Currently, they are studying in class three. Their father Ashok Pandey, whose name is mentioned in the school records, is reportedly in jail. But the authorities doubt his parentage and do not wish to contact him.

The Hindu could not reach Mr. Bachchan for a comment. The sisters, however, want “Amitabh uncle” to keep his word.

“Amitabh uncle should do what he promised,” said Anjali.

Suspecting foul play, Mr. Abhishek demanded, “The government should probe to whose account the cheque was credited and if there is any irregularity there should be an FIR against the responsible persons.”

To compound their woes, Rimjhim’s health has started to fail.

“She gets high fever and fits. She throws up too. When she gets sick, she starts crying. I also start crying,” said Anjali, overwhelmed with emotion. The shy Rimjhim is not a talker like her sister. “I get dizzy spells,” is all she is able to mutter.

The school has been taking care of Rimjhim’s medical expenses, but they don’t know for how long they could go on.

“The father is getting old,” said Mr. Abhishek, “and the girls are growing up. No one has come forward to help. Moreover, we don’t know if we should hand them over to their mother.”

Janata durbar, a ray of hope

On Monday, the sisters attended Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s ‘janata durbar’. Mr. Kumar has heeded their appeal and directed the district administration to extend assistance to them.

With a sick sister by her side, Anjali dreams of becoming a doctor. Her dreams are still young, just like her.