Managing Life

An unattended high tension wire left young Sajad A Lone handicapped for life. He lost both arms and will to survive. But an angelic intervention from a stranger helped him keep going. Zafar Aafaq tells his story

Sajad uses his feet to write and manage his life.

After years of struggle and training, Sajad Ahmad Lone, 26, who hails from Gulgam village of Kupwara district, some 100 kms from Srinagar, has learned to live without arms. Sitting in a corner of his small room, Sajad carefully holds a pen between his toes and starts writing.

Despite the handicap, Sajad manages almost everything on his own: he irons his clothes, feeds on his own, uses a smart phone for staying in touch with his friends, reads books, uses television remote etc. “I was not like this always,” said Sajad.

The tragedy, as Sajad calls it, happened in autumn 1996, when he was six. “I went out with friends to play cricket in a nearby paddy field,” recalls Sajad.

As the kids began to play, Sajad came across a rope like thing lying unattended on the field. It was a high tension electric wire that had snapped. “I had no idea what it is,” said Sajad innocently.

With same innocence Sajad touched the live wire thinking it is a rope. “I woke up in a hospital in Srinagar after three weeks,” recalls Sajad.

The electric current had charred his arms, damaged his left leg, and tossed him down, unconscious.   “His arms were black like charcoal,” says Sajad’s mother Mehtaab.

Immediately Sajad was rushed to Srinagar’s Bone and Joint Hospital. There, his both arms were amputated.

After the surgery, Sajad was shifted to Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) for further treatment. At SKIMS flesh was transplanted on his shoulders. At the hospital young Sajad was trained to manage his life without arms. “There I met another person who like me was without arms,” said Sajad. “He became by teacher, my spiritual guide, my motivation to face the world again.”

For Sajad’s mother Mehtaab, the stranger with long flowing beard was an angle. “One day he took Sajad and me to his ward and grabbed a cup with his toes,” recalls Mehtaab. “Then he told Sajad to try the same.”

Initially it was difficult for Sajad to balance things in his toes, but with the stranger’s help he managed to take care of himself. “He taught me how to hold a spoon in my toes, how to wash face and take bath, how to use a pencil,” recalls Sajad.

To help get Sajad much needed attention from the doctors, the stranger got his story published in a local newspaper. “After that doctors would take care of me the way I needed,” said Sajad.

Finally, after six-months, Sajad was discharged from SKIMS. “He spent next two years in bed as his leg took time to heal,” said Mehtaab. “After almost three years he was able to join school again.”

At school, with the stranger’s training, Sajad managed his day-to-day huddles smoothly. Sajad managed to pass Class 12 exams without any trouble. “I was provided substitute writer during exams,” said Sajad.

In the meanwhile, Sajad’s family filed a case against state’s Power Development Department (PDD), holding them responsible for their son’s plight. His family asked for compensation and a job for now grown up Sajad.

In 2008, district court Kupwara passed an order in Sajad’s favour asking the department to compensate him financially which the department challenged in High Court.

The High Court slashed the compensation amount from proposed Rs 5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh, but directed the department to engage Sajad. However, the department is yet to implement the High Court order.

In 2012, when PDD failed to implement High Courts orders, Sajad decided to continue with his studies and joined Government Degree College, Kupwara, to pursue graduation.

A year later, Sajad was once again confined to bed because of typhoid. “I could not prepare for exams due to illness,” said Sajad. When the results were declared, Sajad had failed in two subjects. It disturbed Sajad. “I have lost motivation to carry on with my studies,” said Sajad.

However, his family and friends keep encouraging Sajad to carry on with his studies. “We told him to at least complete graduation,” said Mehtaab.

Sajad, who somehow managed to make peace with his disability, was shattered by the typhoid. “I have stopped dreaming big,” said Sajad. “I just want to graduate and apply for a job.” Sajad spends his time studying religion. “I also attend religious gatherings.”

Sajad regrets not asking the stranger, who taught him how to manage his life at SKIMS, his name or address. “I tried, but I couldn’t trace him,” said Sajad. “If you happen to read this, please contact me.”

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