Dear Salman Khan,
She was only 2.5 years old when my daughter – Ryka, was diagnosed with blood cancer.
We were on a trip to India in December 2013 when she developed some infection on her toes. Doctors advised us some tests which revealed she had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL).
Ryka means born out of prayers. We loved our child as every parent would. We were shattered when we heard that our little angel had blood cancer and saw her condition deteriorate right before our eyes.
While the world was ushering in a new year, my husband Pankaj and I, feared the worst and felt hopeless as our little girl underwent one test after the other.
Born in Melbourne, Ryka was only 2.5 years old when her little mind thought that her visit to India had given her the illness.
During the entire week at New Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, she insisted that we bring her back to Melbourne. She thought that coming back to Australia would take her Cancer away.
We flew back to Melbourne on 5th January 2014 and took her straight to Royal Children’s Hospital. She spent the next 1.5 months at the hospital undergoing treatment.
When we finally brought her home, Ryka rejected everything related to India. She did not want to hear Indian music, she disliked talking to phone to people in India, she hated Indian shows on television, did not like us watching Indian movies.
Every time we tried to see something related to India on television, she would get upset and cry hysterically.
We were astonished to see how a little child associated her cancer to the country of our origin.
It pained to see that. As a couple, we had dreamt of bringing up our daughter with an understanding of Indian culture, values and community. But she disliked everything related even remotely to India.
We shunned everything for her sake. For us, our daughter’s happiness was our first priority.
It was an extremely stressful period for us a family, as parents and as a couple.
One day, late last year, out of the blue, we asked Ryka if it was ok with her to watch an Indian movie. We were prepared for her refusal but she surprised us by saying ok.
That was the first time ever, since her diagnosis; we saw an Indian movie in November 2015.
The movie was Prem Ratan Dhan Payo starring you. Never could I have imagined that the movie would play such a role in turning around Ryka’s dislike for India.
That one movie changed everything. You changed the way Ryka felt about India. She fell in love with you in the movie.
Since that day, your movies, videos and songs, is all that Ryka likes to watch on her tablet.
Her health has tremendously improved and on April 29, Ryka will turn 5. This will be her first cancer-free birthday since her Cancer diagnosis.
As a mother, I cant express how relieved and grateful I am to see my child healthy, happy and so full of life.
Last two years have been a nightmare for us but the way Ryka lits up when you are on screen, is seen to be believed.
All she wants for her fifth birthday is that you, her hero, Salman Khan wishes her ‘Happy Birthday’.
You have not only been a positive reinforcement in Ryka’s life but also the reason behind Ryka accepting her Indian roots. Today, while I am writing this open letter to you, Ryka is practising her dance moves on the title song of your movie, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo.
She plans to perform this dance at her birthday party. And did I say the theme of this birthday party is Prem Ratan Dhan Payo?
I would be extremely grateful to you if you could fulfil Ryka’s birthday wish. She will be over the moon to see her hero wish her ‘Happy Birthday’.
Hope you will find time in your busy schedule to fulfil my daughter’s wish.
Ryka's mother - Vandana Gulati