Un-amputated Dreams

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He lost both his arms to an accident but not his will to survive and excel in life. Meet the Jammu boy Chandeep Singh Sudan, the fastest para-skater in 100m. Tabish Rafiq Mir reports his journey so far

Chandeep Singh during J&K Bank’s calendar launch function at Srinagar. Pic: Mehraj Bhat

The three months Chandeep Singh Sudan, 17, and aspiring electric engineer, spent at a hospital bed, helped him fight his inhibitions. It also convinced him that nothing has changed, and he can live with his shortcomings.

In 2011, Chandeep lost both his arms to an 11,000 volt electric shock while playing with his friends.

“We weren’t home that day. Around 4 pm, my daughter called me and said, ‘Chandeep had burnt his arms’,” recalls his father, as if the words were still resounding in his head.

Immediately, Chandeep was taken to GMC, Jammu, where doctors realised there was nothing they could do for him. He was transferred to GMC Ludhiana for plastic surgery.

At GMC Ludhiana, the doctors immediately shifted their attention from his arms to his lower stomach.

“Usually the electricity passes through the body and comes out through the limbs, but for him, it had found its way out through his gut. His stomach had split wide open, and needed immediate suturing,” his father cringed.

Initially they couldn’t perform a surgery on him because his bladder had been damaged, stopping the urine. The doctors had to do dialysis first. Once that was done, they went ahead and performed the first amputation.

The infection in his arms had worsened after the first amputation and for the final surgery; his arms had to be amputated all the way to the shoulders.

“I remember once after his second amputation, my son asked me to tell the doctors to loosen the bandages on his fingers. Even then, he could feel his fingers and didn’t know that his arms had been amputated,” remembers his father.

As a kid, when Chandeep still had his arms, he used to play football with his friends. He used to go out and call kids both from school and family. “I am taking the responsibility for bringing them back home safely,” he used to say while talking to the parents of the kids who were at least 3 years older than him.

He did his early schooling from Air Force School, Jammu. Here, he used to regularly participate in all the events, athletic and academic.

“I never cared if I would win or lose. For me, participation and learning was more than enough and it used to make me happy,” said Chandeep.

He claims to have earned recognition in drawing and math quizzes, calligraphy and Kho-Kho. “I loved playing football with my friends and even got selected for my school team.”

Chandeep Singh with J&K Bank’s Chairman and state’s FM Dr Haseeb Drabu at Srinagar. Pic: Mehraj Bhat

In Class 7, when his sister passed out of her school, he was shifted to the Banyan International School in Jammu. Later that year, the accident happened.

He took up roller skating after the accident and spent hours every day trying to perfect his balance and speed. In the evenings, after he was done with the classes, he would go to the skating rink and practices for 90 minutes, competing with other able-bodied skaters.

“Initially I kept falling a lot because I didn’t have my arms to keep the balance. But, after falling countless number of times, I finally managed it,” said Chandeep.

In 2012, he participated in a national roller-skating event and won a bronze medal for the same. His father carries a two-page long list of his son’s achievements with him at all times. “Many NGOs gave him awards at both state and national level,” says his father proudly.

At Banyan International School, he resumed his studies as soon as he could and scored 78 percent in Class 10 and 77 percent in 12.

Chandeep has recently started studying Electrical Engineering from MBSCET, Jammu and is in his first semester. He has already made up his mind to excel both in studies as well as sports. Following the same, he wants to become an IAS officer someday.

Earlier in 2016, he started dancing under Nataraj studios Jammu and does it regularly now.

Subsequently, he attended UIDC (United India Dance Group), which is the biggest dance workshop in the world. He was the only participant from the Jammu and Kashmir. “I am going to try and participate in India’s got Talent sometime this year”, said Chandeep.

Milkha Singh personally endorses and has undertaken the responsibility of mentoring young Chandeep.

In order to regain the use of his arms to an extent, Chandeep needs prosthetic arms, which cost somewhere between Rs 40-50 lacs. The family tries their best to save money, and they accept donations too.

His family and school helped him a lot, he said. The school sponsored all his sports-event trips and provided 2 helpers for him, who used to help him do things he couldn’t do on his own. His friends used to copy notes and give it to him at the end of the day, so that he wouldn’t lag behind in academics.

On December 31, 2016, the Jammu and Kashmir bank honoured Chandeep by featured on its annual calendar for his extraordinary achievements in fields of sports.

He wants to apply for the upcoming Sher-e-Kashmir award, complaining light-heartedly that the state government doesn’t support him enough.

The Golden Book of World Records recently featured him as the fastest para-skater under the 100m category.

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