World’s smallest boy to grieve smallest man’s death

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS,

Kathmandu : The death of the world’s smallest man will be mourned by the world’s smallest boy, who is expected to assume the title seven months later.

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The death of China-born He Pingping, who died after chest pains in Rome Saturday, is being mourned in Pokhara city in central Nepal, which is also home to Khagendra Thapa Magar, the 17-year-old school boy who was poised to wrest the title of the shortest man in the world from the Chinese this year.

“We are saddened by the death of He Pingping,” said Min Bahadur Rana Magar, president of the Khagendra Thapa Magar Foundation that had been campaigning to wrest He Pingping’s title for Khagendra, the Nepali school boy who is seven inches shorter than the Chinese was.

“It will be lamented by small people everywhere in the world.”

Though He Pingping, who measured 29 inches, fell ill while shooting for a western television station in Rome and passed away Saturday, the news reached Nepal only Tuesday.

“Local reporters rang me in the morning to give me the sad news,” Rana Magar said.

“Khagendra will be very sad to hear of He Pingping’s death.”

The teen had not yet been informed as he had gone to school, Rana Magar said.

Last month, He Pingping met his contender Khagendra in Rome when Euro Television brought them together for a documentary.

“He Pingping was amazed to see Khagendra and there was great rapport between the two,” Rana Magar said. “We stayed in the same hotel for a week. The two would eat together and play together.”

He Pingping, who was accompanied by a brother-in-law and an interpreter, played table tennis with Khagendra on a tiny board made specially for them. They also shared meals of macaroni and chicken sandwich washed down with fruit juices.

Khagendra, who measures 22 inches, had applied to the Guinness Book of World Records authorities, laying claim to He Pingping’s title as the shortest man in the world.

The record was expected to be officially his in October, when he turns 18.

However, with the Chinese’s sudden death, Khagendra will be unofficially regarded as the new title holder from now on.