Mohammad Latif Khatana, 32, and his wife Salima, 25, from Jammu and Kashmir in India, have been enjoying every moment with their newborn daughter. Ulfat, meaning love in Urdu, was born naturally at home, in Reasi district, on November 10, weighing a healthy 5lbs 5oz.
As soon as Latif held his new daughter he quickly checked her over for any visible marks. But the new parents were overjoyed to find their little girl was healthy and unmarked.Latif said: “I was extremely worried about my baby’s facial features. When I saw that she was pretty and fine, it was a great relief. She has a beautiful face, just like an angel.”Latif explained his new daughter has brought joy into his life after years of misery because of his own disfigurement.
Latif suffers from a skin disorder, Neurofibromatosis, which means he has multiple flaps of skin covering his entire face, making him almost faceless. He said: “I want to forget about my past life. Being a father is a new chapter in a man’s life and I am embracing every second of it. I will enjoy it and I’ll now be a lot more worried about her than myself. I don’t care so much about me anymore.”
When his wife Salima found out she was expecting, the pair suffered many sleepless nights worried whether Latif would pass on his condition. Salima, who was born with just one foot, married Latif in August 2008. Latif struggled to find a wife for many years but when he met Salima, they bonded over their disabilities, and finally agreed to marry.
Latif said: “We had always wanted children but we were always too scared. In the end we took a chance but I prayed throughout the pregnancy that we had a healthy child. I didn’t care if it was a boy or girl as long as he or she didn’t have to hide its face in shame. “When I finally heard my daughter’s cries, it was such a special moment, my heart was full of happiness.”
Latif and Salima would like more children, but their financial problems might not allow it. “I thank god for blessing me with a beautiful daughter and we’d love more children. But I don’t earn enough. No parent would want their child to suffer any health problems, but they do not want them to suffer financially either.”
Latif has taken to begging to support his family as his sight problems mean he cannot get a job. He travels to Kashmir’s capital city, Srinagar, every year for several months to make enough money to send home.
“I don’t want to leave my daughter but I don’t have much choice and I will have to leave in the Spring. I have to earn money to support my family and this is the only way I can,” he added.
Salima said Latif has been a wonderful husband and believes he will go on to make a great father.She said: “No matter what Latif looks like, I love being married to him. I don’t regret one day as his wife. I like him just the way he is. His face is God’s wish, we can’t do much with it so we accept it and live our lives.
“But thankfully it was not the same wish for our daughter. Our prayers were answered and our baby is fine. We refuse to waste another minute worrying about it now. We will live our lives, happily.”