Playing with his toy-cars on a log of wood that was being cut to pieces by his father’s band-saw mill, Yaqoob lost his left arm. Many years later, he gave up studies but not the cricket, he loved so much, reports Umar Mukhtar
In May 2018, the final match of the Aga Syed Roohullah cricket tournament was to be played in Budgam. Yaqoob-11 and another local team, who made it to the finals, were all set to face each other. The crowd of around 2000 people had come to watch the game. The coin was tossed and Yaqoob-11 got the turn to field. After bowling some over’s, when Mohammad Yaqoob Nath, 33, started bowling, the crowd broke into unstoppable excitement. Reason: Yaqoob is a specially-abled player. He plays with only one arm as his left arm is cut.
Yaqoob’s family owns a band sawmill where his father and two elder brothers work. Since childhood, Yaqoob used to play with the littered wooden planks scattered around the sawmill.
On July 13, 1991, Yaqoob, then a nine-year-old and a fourth standard school going kid was playing at home. Curfew had shut the life and school was closed.
On a fateful day, Yaqoob after finishing his studies went for playing, near the mill. The elders were busy with their routine work, rolling the wooden logs for furniture making.
While playing around the mill, Yaqoob got inside. He was lost amongst big logs. He was playing hide and seek, giggling and driving the wooden toy cars over the logs as if running his car on the bumpy roads.
“I remember I had two wooden car toys in both of my hands. One car was chasing the other.” Yaqoob was getting closer to the spinning wheel of the mill.
As he drew more close to the spinning wheel, Yaqoob lifted his left hand. In a jiffy, Yaqoob’s arm got caught in the wheel. A shriek came out. It caught the attention of the people working around. One among the workers pulled down the power supply. The wheel stopped but the damage was done. Yaqoob was lying in a pool of blood unconscious with the arm still stuck in the wheel. A portion of the arm, below the elbow, was lying on one side on the ground, the reaming portion was churned and stuck. The workers rushed to the spot. They pulled Yaqoob out of the wheel. They were shocked to see him, he was looking as if dead, blood all over.
His sister came out crying and lifted the blood-drenched Yaqoob in his lap. She bandaged Yaqoob’s damaged hanging arm with her scarf. Yaqoob was rushed to the hospital.
At SMHS hospital, he was operated upon. Later, he was referred to Bone and Joints hospital Barzulla for special treatment where his damaged arm was amputated. Three half-lengths of his arm were amputated. This broke his heart and of his family.
“Post surgery when I regained conscience, I was completely broken as I saw I had no arm,” Yaqoob remembers. “I cried for the whole day.” He spent two months in the hospital.
A cricket lover, the kid was worried now about how he will play the game.
The incident left a very deep scar in Yaqoob’s life. He dropped his studies soon in his eleventh standard. He was finding it difficult to carry on the daily activities.
An erstwhile active player on the pitch, the accident reduced Yaqoob to a spectator. “I used to go along our local team and was shouting for their good performances,” remembers Yaqoob with tears in his eyes. But Yaqoob had a desire to dress up in the cricket jersey, play in the field; it was making him weep when he was in isolation.
He left the studies but not the cricket.
But back at home Yaqoob used to take the bat in his right hand and play with himself. He used to bowl against a cemented wall. As the saying goes practice makes a man perfect. This exercise was honing his skills.
Soon Yaqoob resumed playing amateur cricket with his friends again. All of them were stunned to see Yaqoob playing with confidence. “I was bowling the leg breaks and managed to bowl out some of the players,” He said. This helped Yaqoob to overcome the fear that disability has instilled deep inside him.
Gradually Yaqoob began to play in the local regular team. He now was travelling with them to play the other teams. He got a place of a regular spin bowler in his team.
Yaqoob is so much in love with the cricket that he always carries a cricket kit in his car.