Medical marvels 28 videos

She may look like a toddler – but Girija Srinivas is actually a teenager trapped in a 2-year-old’s body.

The 19-year-old, from Bangalore in India, was born with congenital agenesis, meaning her limbs failed to fully develop and leaving her just two-and-a-half feet tall and weighing a mere 12kg.

Girija’s head is so heavy in comparison to her body that she is unable to even sit up and doctors have said that there is a chance she could suffer a fracture if she tries to rotate her neck quickly.

Her condition means the teenager struggles to even do the most basic household chores by herself.

But against the odds, and with her friends and family behind her, Girija is carving out a career as an artist.

Girija makes money from her drawings

Girija makes money from her drawings

‘I don’t like anyone pitying me, I have shown everyone what my capabilities are,’ Girija says.

‘My mother helps me with eating and other normal things. But while I’m painting and drawing I need nobody’s help. I do it myself. I sell five to six paintings per month, which makes me between 8,000 and 10,000 rupees (£86-108).

‘I have to look after my parents and I need to have the financial capacity to do that.’

Girija lives with her parents and an older brother in the South Indian city of Bangalore, where her father is a tailor and her mother devotes herself full-time to her care.

Nanda Baayi, Girija’s mother, says: ‘We faced difficulties from the beginning. Even now, it’s tough for us to look after her. There is immense pain in our heart.

‘When she was born, she was not like other babies. When the doctors told us that her condition was permanent, it broke our hearts.’

Her mum is there for Girija

Her mum is there for Girija

But despite her parents’ fears for her future, Girija dreams of an independent life – and hopes her art can help her get there.

‘I don’t want to be popular because of my rare health condition but I want to be famous some day for my art. I do not want sympathy, I want recognition,’ says the determined teen.

‘I have an aim to achieve more in life. It’s my dream to go abroad and achieve something big.’

Girija could never go to school because of her condition, but she says she is not too fond of studying anyway.

‘I am not sad for not going to school. I don’t care about it too much,’ she says.

But like most other girls her age, the teenager’s time – when not drawing – is taken up watching TV and playing with her pet.

Mentally and emotionally, she is just like any other teenage girl

Mentally and emotionally, she is just like any other teenage girl

Girija has been on the receiving end of cruel taunts about her size, but says she has a large circle of friends in her neighbourhood.

‘People say many things about me, laugh at me and call me mad. But my family members treat me as a normal person and I have many friends of my age. They never tease me that I am a toddler.

‘I am not sad for being too small and unable to walk or move like a normal person.’

Girija’s father earns less than £5 a day, making it hard for the family to get her even the most basic medical treatment.

But despite their relative poverty, mum Nanda says she supports Girija’s dreams of independence.

‘I am confident enough to tell that she can be self-dependent. It is her dream too,’ she says.