Painful Walk

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A young boy who was inflicted by polio in his childhood could not bear the economic crisis of his ailing parents. The specially-abled drags himself to a distance of 5 km in the most painful way on a stony path, twice a day, and has picked up the tailoring skill to help his parents, reports Umar Mukhtar

Nisar Ahmad Phamad - Painful Walk

Nisar Ahmad Phamad

Every single day is a new challenge for Nisar Ahmad Phamad, 18, a specially-abled boy, whose both legs are paralyzed by polio since he was one-year-old. A resident of remote Vail Nagbal village in Anantnag, Nisar is learning tailoring at a neighbouring village located 5 kilometres away. But to reach his place of work is not an easy task for Nisar. It is the most challenging thing that he has to face twice a day, in the morning and evening.

As a routine, he puts on a pair of worn-out slippers on his hands and uses them to push his body around through a narrow and muddy road. On a normal day, Nisar walks around 200 meters from his house to reach the main road, hoping to get a lift from motorists passing through the village. Once in a while, he gets lucky. But on most of the days, he is on his own. “I have learned to use my hands as my legs,” said Nisar.

When the hope of finding a lift fades, he starts off using his hands as legs. The road to the neighbouring village is a treacherous one for a person like Nisar. It passes along a small irrigation canal that feeds paddy fields.

Nisar uses the canal’s concrete edges to support his skeleton-like frame, and dangles his body forward; each push injuring his lifeless knees. It is a painful sight.

But for Nisar, who was born to poverty-stricken parents, this is the only way out. “Since I started visiting the tailor’s shop for work, I feel liberated,” said Nisar with a smile on his face. “I don’t have resources to get a wheelchair for myself as it costs a lot given the family’s meagre income.”

On a sunny day, it takes Nisar two hours to cover a distance of 5 kilometres this way, dragging his body with the force of his arms. “When it is raining, I cannot stay at home all day,” said Nisar.

In the evening when Nisar comes back, he is often bruised and dusty. His feet are swollen and have visible scars and wounds. “It is a dusty and earthen road,” said Nisar. “You can only imagine what it feels like dragging your body through it for four hours every day. It is not easy to walk like this on stones.”

Nisar while learning the tailoring skill.

Nisar while learning the tailoring skill.

But Nisar cannot stay home either as he has to support his ailing labourer father and mother. “I would never like it that my father would spread his hands in front of anyone for help,” said Nisar. “I want to earn for them and give them a comfortable life. I know it is hard given my condition but I will try and keep on trying.”

To overcome the financial crisis in his family, Nisar works under the apprenticeship of a tailor named Javaid Ahmad. Before learning to make clothes, Nisar used to frequent Ahmad’s shop to kill time. “I used to discuss politics, cricket, and other topics at his shop whenever I felt bored at home,” recalls Nisar.

One day, Ahmad saw Nisar observing his sewing machine keenly and offered him to work under him. “I said yes within no time as I wanted to do something for my parents,” said Nisar.

In less than two months time, Nisar has mastered the art and has already completed a suit on his own.

“It usually takes around three months to pick up the art of tailoring but Nisar is a quick learner,” said Ahmad. “Soon, he will be a good tailor.”

As of now, Nisar is not earning much but Ahmad is sure that with time he will have his own clientele. “I am sure he will not be dependent on anyone after a few months,” said Ahmad. “I have great sympathies for this gentleman who is fighting against odds to do something with respect and dignity. He has started earning small but will earn better in coming days. He struggles a lot to reach the shop and the day I see him tired and exhausted I retain him for the night halt here.”

Nisar has a wheelchair at home but he does not like to sit in it and pushed around by other people. “My parents are ill and old I cannot ask them to take me all out,” said Nisar. “I want to save money so that I could buy a scooter designed for people like me. I don’t want to be a burden on anyone.”

Being only child of his parents, Nisar was born normal with no visible disability. But when he turned one, he started acting strange and couldn’t move his legs. Given the limited resources his parents had they sought medical treatment for Nisar. But unfortunately, Nisar’s father fell from a tree and was bedridden for almost a year. This hampered their growth economically and they could not continue Nisar’s treatment.

Nisar Ahmad Phamad with his family.

Nisar Ahmad Phamad with his family.

Nisar is now hopeful that someday his dreams will be fulfilled and he too will live a dignified life.

The family lives in a modest home, a single-storey mud and timber house. They hardly manage to meet both ends and the only visible source of their income is the meagre earnings of Nisar.

Nisar has a brother, elder to him. He is married and settled and lives separate from his parents and Nisar. The village has a scattered population and there is no tailoring shop around. This is the main reason why he has to make a painful trek to a distant village.

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