02 August, 2021

Pushy Khanna helps to make leprosy patients' lives a little better

Pushy Khanna helps to make leprosy patients' lives a little better
Red spots had appeared on the arms of the English lady. To the untrained eye, they looked like blister scabs left behind by angry cigarette burns. A friend shows concern and drives the lady down to see a doctor. His diagnosis? Early stages of leprosy. The verdict is delivered in gentle, understanding tones. Yet, it sounds like the pronouncement of a life sentence. The lady breaks down and the friend instinctively embraces her and says: "Bev, it's only a disease. You're strong and you'll fight it."

The year was 1953 and the friend was Pushpa 'Pushy' Khanna, wife of an army officer. Pushy was then twentysomething, the mother of two daughters and a lady of leisure with a fairly hectic social life. Despite all this, she still would find time for the wives of her husband's troops.

The image of the distraught Englishwoman never went away. Some 15 years after the incident, Pushy had an inner calling, and her life was drawn to a larger purpose: the counselling of leprosy patients. Unlike her English friend, the patients were victims of neglect, ostracised and alone. The only...

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