Yashwant Raut has a bruise on his forehead – a minor injury he got when he knocked his head on a 2m-high windowsill. ‘I’m always careful and look out for such things but I somehow missed that window and knocked my head yesterday,’ says the 14-year-old school boy.
To most people of normal height, a 2m windowsill is not much of an issue. But to this boy, who is already towering over 2m, such objects can be potentially lethal. ‘Doctors have told me that I might grow taller than 2.4m or 6’7” to be precise,’ he says, smiling despite his sore head.
Yashwant, from Solapur, in Maharashtra, is the tallest teenager in India. And while he is looking forward to entering the record books for being the tallest man in India if not the world, he is also a tad worried about what the future has in store for him. ‘I hope I will be able to find a girl who matches my height when it’s time to get married,’ he says.
Yashwant was born to parents, Brahmadev Raut, 40, who is 1.6m tall and Suman Raut, 36, only 1.4m.
‘People ask me what I did and what I ate during my pregnancy to have such a tall boy, but I have no answer for them,’ says his mother, Suman. ‘I don’t remember eating anything out of the ordinary. Also, he was like any other baby when he was born, just a bit bigger. But within a few weeks, he would not fit into his cot or in the pram – his hands and legs used to stick out.’
She admits they were a bit apprehensive for their son’s health because of his height. ‘By the time he was a year old he was half a metre. But the doctors assured us he was fit and healthy. I just assumed he was a big baby, I never imagined it would follow him into adulthood.’
Yashwant, a student at the Smt Nirmala Tai Thokal Prashala, in Solapur itself, says all his peers are jealous of his height. ‘Many of my friends refuse to play basketball in the team that I am not on because they know they will lose. I do not have to really jump a lot to throw the ball in the basket compared to how much the others have to try.’
However, despite such privileges, Yashwant still faces daily struggles.
The teenager, whose shoe size is 15, says, ‘I never have a good night’s sleep because I don’t fit on the bed properly. I’m yet to get a customised bed. And whenever I walk around the house my head keeps bumping into something or the other – the door frame, the window sills... I don’t even fit properly in our family car, and my school desk and bench is also too small for me. So yes, life is quite a struggle.’
His older sister Triveni Raut, 18, is protective of him and helps when she can, but even she, who stands at 1.5m tall, only comes to his waist.
His father, Brahmadev, and mother, Suman, both teachers, feel very proud of their son as he stands out in the crowd. Brahmadev says: ‘People certainly stare at him when he walks down the street. Sometimes people gush over his height and stare at him in awe but there are a few I’ve seen tease him, calling him nasty nicknames. However, we keep telling him to embrace the good and junk the negatives.’
Suman wants her son to be world famous. ‘If he’s been blessed with this height then I hope he’ll be very successful. He was a normal child but now he’s becoming a man I want everyone to know about him. He’s gifted. After all, how many people are there in the world who are so tall!
‘Some people call him Amitabh Bachchan (the Bollywood actor known for his height),’ she says. ‘But others call him abnormal and then I feel bad. I choose to ignore them and think about the good things people say and teach my son the same.’
However, Yashwant has a good attitude and takes everything in his huge stride. ‘My height is my biggest strength and I’m certain it will help me succeed in life.
‘There have been times when I have even felt like a celebrity – people stop me to click pictures and take my autograph,’ he says with a smile.
‘I always knew I would be tall but I never expected that I would grow this tall.’
Yashwant dreams of playing basketball for his country when he leaves school and believes his height will give him an advantage making him a success. He also wants to apply for the Guinness Book of World Records but is disappointed that he has to wait until he’s at least 18 to set a record.
‘I can only hope I keep growing,’ he adds. ‘I would love to be in the Guinness World Records.’
Currently, Dharmendra Singh, 32, from Meerut, is the tallest man in India standing at an enormous 2.5m tall. ‘I hope I will be able to beat that record,’ says Yashwant.