Like many mothers, Rajeshwari Karnan was delighted when she gave birth to a son. The 23-year-old farm labourer and her husband, Karnan Perumal, 26, already had a two-year-old daughter, but like many in the state of Tamil Nadu, they considered a boy a particular blessing.
So when Rahul arrived in May, they were especially delighted. However, just over a week later, their joy turned to misery.
One afternoon, says Rajeshwari, she was washing her daughter when she suddenly heard Rahul screaming from inside the hut. She ran towards him, but before she could get there, a neighbour shouted to her the words she will never forget: ‘Your baby is on fire!’