An accident at a saw mill left an eight-year-old Amir Hussain Lone without his arms. For three years after, he struggled in a hospital as he recovered. However, from a time when people suggested to his father that he “get rid of him”, Amir has become a pride for his family.
From south Kashmir’s Bijbehara, Amir not only managed to make his feet double as his hands, but even learnt to swim and play cricket. Now 26, he is the captain of Jammu and Kashmir’s para cricket team.
“After the accident, people told my father that I will become a burden on him. I thought, no, I will not let that happen and decided to fight,” says Amir.
While he adopted his swimming style by imitating a duck, Amir practised to hold the bat between his chin and shoulder to hit the ball. Using the same two toes -- the big toe and second toe -- of his right foot with which he eats, writes and shaves, Amir delivers his “in and out-swings”. He, in fact, fares much better than many of his four-limbed peers.
“First I thought that he will have to be provided a lot of help, because, without arms, he won’t be able to do anything. But then he started to do everything by himself using his feet. And it was his amazing capacity to adapt and learn things without his arms,” said his father, Bashir Ahmad Lone, who remembered how some people advised him to abandon the boy.
“Immediately after the accident, people told me that he is of no use and that I should get rid of him. But I backed him all through this and even sold my agricultural land for his treatment,” said Bashir.
While Amir’s father struggled financially, Amir himself was trying to cope at school. A class 3 student at the time of the accident, he recalls how his teacher told him to go home. The general attitude of people towards him made Amir even more determined to do well in life.
He studied till college level where a teacher discovered his cricketing talent and introduced him to para cricket. Steely reserve and practice eventually made him team captain. It also made him a mini celebrity among his friends and family.
“Whenever life pushes me down, I remember the struggle and success of Amir. He is a real inspiration,” said a friend from Amir’s village.
For Amir however, things will never be easy. And he rues the government’s lack of industry in improving conditions for people like him.
“The government is neither serious about the welfare of the disabled nor is it concerned about the promotion of para cricket in the state. Our para team is not provided with a coach. I teach my players myself,” he said, adding that he will continue with the sport as any other job would be hard to land at this point. Amir hopes to eventually get a job under the sports or disability quota so he can better concentrate on his game.