Madhu Babu was not the first Odia to go abroad

Its the famous Orissa twins to
sail to America in 1893 four years before Madhu Babu
Bhubaneswar, Feb 4: In popular history, it is said that
Barrister Madhusudan Das was the first Odia who sailed to England. In April 1897,
he sailed from Kolkata to raise his demands for the interests of Orissa before
the British government.  However there
are many references of Odia mariners who sailed on English and Dutch ships as
early as 1790.  Some unverified Christian
missionary accounts also speak of converted Odias who were sent to foreign
However, according to noted researcher Anil Dhir, who has researched
the story of famous Orissa Twins, said the earliest confirmed account of Odias
in England and America is of the Siamese twins Radhika and Doodica, popularly
known as the “Orissa Twins”. There are various newspaper accounts of these
twins having toured the Americas, Europe and England. The sisters had a decade
long stint, exhibiting themselves as freaks in different exhibitions. 
The twins were born in 1888 to Khestra Nayak of Haopara
village in Dhenkanal District. For the poor parents, the deformed kids were a
liability. Moreover the birth of these conjoined twins was seen by the
superstitious villagers as a symbol of divine wrath. The family was ostracised
by the community and in sheer desperation the father tried to forcefully
separate them. However some local officials prevented him and the local Mahima
sadhus took them under their protection. It was they who named the girls
Radhika and Dudhika.
Word of the freaks got around and was reported in the English
press in 1892. London showman Captain Colman sent his agent to Odisha, who
convinced the monks to hand over the twins for their better treatment. There is
even proof that an Odia lady, probably an aunt, accompanied the twins. They
sailed for the Americas to take part in the Chicago Fair of 1893, after
stopping for a week in London. The British Medical Journal carried a report on
the twins in its on June 1893 issue, citing “the two little girls, nearly four
years old, are apparently perfect in every respect, except that from the
ensiform cartilage to the umbilicus they are united together”.
They were a big draw at the Chicago Fair and this drew the
attention of P.T.Barnum of the famous Barnum and Bailey Circus. They twins were
soon a part of the “The Greatest Show on Earth.” The sisters were shown on
colourful posters and postcards as the “Orissa Twins” or “Hindu twins”, and
were  bigcrowd pullers wherever the shows
went. There were stories about the twins in magazines and newspapers, which
portrayed them as exceedingly handsome, charming and vivacious young
ladies.Captain Colman treated the girls as an adoptive father and the girls
were happy with each other. They learnt English and travelled all over Europe
and the USA. 
In 1902, while in France, Doodica developed tuberculosis.
With the hope of saving Radhika, Dr Eugene Louis Doyen, the famous surgeon of
France and a pioneer scientific film maker, did the separation surgery on
February 9, 1902.He filmed the twins’ surgery and showed is as “La Separation
de Doodica-Radica”. Sections of Doyen’s film were part of the 1995 BBC
documentary series “The Last Machine”. The operation was a failure as Doodica
diedjust seven hours after the surgery. Radhika too did not live long; she
passed away after a few months. Dr. Doyen’s operation has stirred up a
controversy among the medical fraternity of the time.  Both the sisters were given secret burials in
Paris. Nothing was known about them until Thierry Lefebvre, wrote about them in
his  2004 book titled  “Flesh and Celluloid: The surgical cinema of
Dr. Doyen”. Few in Odisha know of them, there are no archival accounts of the
twins who had toured the World a good four years before Madhu Babu stepped

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