Life is not a luxury for this amputee girl. It is a struggle and a challenge for her after that fateful day. This former volleyball player never stooped to conquer even when gruesome realities stared at her
By Neethu Mohan
When she began the journey on a train to appear for the examination conducted by Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), she didn’t think that the journey would end up in a tragedy. For Arunima Sonu Sinha, a national volleyball and football player, that day (April 11, 2011) was like any other day. Arunima boarded the Padmavati Express at Lucknow for Delhi. Between Chenati and Bareilly railway stations, robbers tried to snatch her bag and gold chain. When she resisted the robbers’ attempt, they pushed her out of the general compartment of the train. Another train, which came in the opposite direction, ran over her leg severing the leg below the knee.
Arunima was rushed to a hospital. Doctors amputated her leg in order to save her life. Arunima was then shifted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS) for further treatment. She spent about four months at AIMS and was provided a prosthetic leg.
Arunima spoke to Future Medicine recently about her life after the tragedy and her determination to make some achievements against all odds.
“Days were really hard. I could not even get up from the bed. More than the physical pain, what bothered me was the attitude of people. My version of the accident was not taken seriously. The police even said that I attempted suicide. Life seemed very tough.”
But the allegations and the mental harassment made Arunima stronger. While in the hospital, she realised that she should achieve something in her life and staying idle will not help. She spoke to her brother, Rahul and her coach. Finally, Arunima decided to fight the odds and mountaineering came as a new way to achieve something.
“At first, people laughed at me. Some said I lost my senses. But nothing prevented me. I took the basic courses of mountaineering from Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarakashi,” recalls Arunima.
But her family and friends supported her. Her mother was the driving force and she taught her to face the situation boldly and go ahead in life.
After completing her basic course, she joined the Eco Everest Expedition of Tata Group and then Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) camp in Uttarkashi. Bachendri Pal, the first woman from India to climb the Mount Everest, was her trainer.
Arunima successfully scaled the 6,622-metre-high Mount Chhamser Kangri of Ladakh last year, but her ultimate goal was to climb Mount Everest.
“The inspiration and support Bachendri gave me cannot be explained. She inspired me throughout the camp. I used to tell her that conquering of Mount Everest was not meant for me because I was an amputee. But she washed away all my fears with her care and training,” says Arunima.
She started her march towards Everest on March 31, 2013. She reached the base camp on May 16 and on May 21, Arunima reached the summit of Mount Everest at 10.55 am. Everest’s 8,848 metre-high summit is the world’s highest mountain peak. Arunima says Cricketer Yuvraj Singh who battled cancer was an inspiration for her.
“It was Yuvraj who inspired me to do something in my life. He visited me and encouraged me that mattered a lot. I thought if a person could battle cancer and come back to life, why can’t I?” she says.
With a message “Dreams and goals in life are to be accomplished and not to be forgotten”, Arunima ignites the spirit that remains dormant in the people who faced misfortunes in the life.