Survived, Thrived

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He was in second grade when an accident left his arms amputated. For next three years he shuttled between hospitals in Kashmir. Then he decided to fight back and emerged as an impressive student and cricketer great enough to become first Kashmiri player in India’s  para-cricket team, reports Muhammad Raafi

The mood is ecstatic in a small but lively home of Lone’s in Bijbehara’s Wangam village. Bashir Ahmad Lone, father of Kashmir Para-Cricket Team’s captain Amir Ahmad Lone is greeting people who have come from various parts of the town. It includes his friends, relatives and neighbours.

It was Monday, August 21. Amir received a call from an unknown number. With the help of his friend, Amir received the call. It was the secretary general (SG) of Indian Cricket Federation for disabled. “You have been selected for the national team,” Amir remembers AW Siddiqui, telling him.

Ecstatic, Amir erupted in celebration without listening to what Siddiqui said further.

The phone rang again and it was Siddiqui again, “You are playing International Matches against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, shortly,” he said.

Amir quickly said ‘good bye’ to Siddiqui and ran to inform his parents.

Since then, Amir said, the village is jubilant. “People from various villages, some of whom we know, and others, whom we don’t know, visit me daily. They greet me and congratulate me,.”

Amir said, the feeling is such that he can’t translate it into words. “I had never even in the wildest of my dreams thought I will live to this day.” He said that parents of a disabled person are always concerned about their son. They have fears and tensions. They live an uncertain life. “The story is different today,” Amir said. “My parents are proud. They have raised me this far and are content with what I have been able to achieve.

Captain of J&K’s Para-Cricket team, Amir’s date with destiny is a departure from the usual. It was September 21, 1997. Amir, then a second primary student, had gone to drop lunch box for his brother, working at a sawmill. As his brother started taking lunch, Amir started playing at the mill. While playing with a piece of timber, sawmill blades caught the kid and rolled him around. The machine, within seconds, left him aside and both his arms on other.

Amir was driven to Srinagar’s Bone and Joint Hospital. There, multiple operations were conducted and Amir’s arms were amputated from shoulders. Next three years, Amir spent in different hospitals of Srinagar. The treatment had shattered Lones’, financially.

“When I was brought home, people suggested my parents that, they should find some way to eliminate me as I was of no worth now,” Amir remembers people suggesting his father. However, Amir’s parents stood by him and assured that they would do everything they could.

“I had to sell most part of my agriculture fields and sawmill to make sure that my son is treated well,” Bashir said. “I even took loan from bank, but how one could leave his son in anyway.”

A few months after a prolonged shuttling between the hopsitals, Amir joined a school. Dedicated to learn, Amir enjoyed studying. Gradually, fervour to read and write peaked. Amir worked hard and trained himself in writing with his foot.

One of teachers of Amir said that initially the teachers and Amir’s classmates were against him for attending the school because he had no hands and it was perceived that he cannot learn. However, he said, Amir outshined with each passing day.

Despite difficulties, Amir continued his struggle and studies, and passed his Class 10th, 12th with flying colours. Amir changed himself into a person who was no more dependent on anyone.

In cricket, his inspiration was Sachin Tendulkar and in art it was MF Hussain who inspired him to try his hand in painting. Amir plays cricket with Sachin as his ideal.

Watching Amir Hussain Lone, captain of Jammu and Kashmir’s Para-Cricket team, playing cricket is like witnessing the indomitable spirit of human effort. He grabs the ball with his toes and throws it at the batsmen. He is also good with the bat, which he sandwiches between the neck and the shoulder. His talent was channelized when Amir joined his college cricket team.

“Everyone was stunned to see me playing cricket in college. Within few minutes everyone was applauding for me, and I became an icon in Degree College Bijbehara,” Amir said. But his life as cricketer changed once his talent was spotted by one of the faculty members in the college who later helped him to join J&K National Para cricket team.

Looking at his extraordinary performance, he wasn’t only selected in the National Para-cricket team of J&K, but also appointed its captain. From there, after coaching for few months, he and his team went to play in Delhi. In Delhi, Amir showed such a performance that opposite team put him on their shoulders.

Now, when Amir has been selected for the national team, he says, Allah has been kind enough for what he bestowed me with. “I am leaving for Delhi in December and later will go to Lucknow where I will play against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.”

Later, he said, “I am touring Sri Lanka to play a series.” Amir hopes that he performs well and with consistency.

“I wanted to create an example that a person like me can do anything and can be self-reliable. This is my answer to those people who rejected me and told my parents that they shouldn’t waste money on me,” concluded Amir.

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