Oh, Street Child O’ Mine


Oh, Street Child O’ Mine

Illustration: Juergen Dsouza/ Arré


t is an eighties Bollywood shot we are all familiar with. The impoverished child with spindly legs and tiny shorts is fleeing from tragedy, the passage of time is communicated through running feet, and by the time the camera pans upward, the child has transformed into the hero. The movie title whirls on to the screen and the audience knows they’re in for a hell of a story.

If a movie were ever made on R Hepsibah’s life, this vintage shot would be a fitting opening sequence. Sakshi Malik and P V Sindhu stole the show at the Rio Olympics, but very few people know that young Hepsibah was the one who got there first. The 17-year-old homeless teenager from Chennai bagged three medals for the country – including a gold – at the World Street Child Games held at the Brazilian capital in 2016.