Sisters Pretend To Be Boys To Run Their Sick Dad's Barbershop
Two teenage girls changed their identities for four years, to help keep their family out of poverty.
It was 2014 when Jyoti and Neha Kumari - then aged 13 and 11 - began cutting men's hair, shaving beards and trimming moustaches in India's Kushinagar district.
Their father, Dhruv Narayan, had been forced to close the barbershop after he was left bedridden following a paralysis stroke, leaving the family without an income.
With no money coming in, the two girls decided to pick up the scissors and take on the huge task of running the business themselves.
To avoid criticism from surrounding communities, the girls cut their hair short, threaded steel bracelets over their wrists and changed their names.
Deepak and Rahu - as they became known - kept their new identities for some time, running the family business after school, as boys.
Their hard work seemed to have paid off, the pair earnt up to 500 rupees per day which was enough to pay for their father's treatment and support the family.
As the years passed, the girls' relationships with their customers grew and so did their confidence to reveal their true identities and share their story.
“Today, we do not need to hide our identity as everyone know us," Neha told the Hindustan Times. "Our relatives still feel that this work lacks dignity. I now want to switch to beauty parlour business which is today a source of dignified livelihood to thousands of women in India,” she said.
Weeks after their story was first published by local media, the sisters have been honoured by government officers.
“They are the brilliant story of how one can survive battling all odds,” Abhishek Pandey, an official, told The Guardian. “The little sisters are the inspiration for society and their story must be told to the masses.”
Their father, who has still not recovered, has spoken of the love for his daughters.
“I feel proud of my daughters who supported the family in crisis,” he said.
As for Jyoti and Neha, who are now aged 18 and 16, they'll keep running the barber shop which has now made headlines around the world.
They said customers accepted their true identities and were touched by the noble purpose of their plan.