Valli spends her days picking up coal to support her family. She is not allowed to go to school and there is never enough food in her house. When Valli discovers that the ‘aunt’ she has lived with for as long as she can remember is not really her aunt Valli runs away to Kolkata, a nearby city in eastern India. While living on the streets in Kolkata Valli is very resourceful and so she manages to survive. Near the river one day Valli meets a doctor who notices Valli’s feet. Valli has thought that she had magic feet because she never feels pain in them, but the doctor recognises the signs of leprosy.