I was thrown out of a running train: Heart touching story of Arunima Sinha

10 September 2016

I am Arunima Sinha. I have been a volleyball champion. In 2011, I was travelling from Lucknow to Delhi and some robbers threw me out of a running train.

It was a general compartment, there were a lot of people – nobody tried to intervene. It’s in the spirit of a player to not easily let go, not even after the struggle.  Even I resisted, there were four to five of them and they threw me out of the running train. It was unfortunate that at the same time another train was passing on the adjacent track. I first banged into that train and then fell on the tracks.  Both the train passed.

After a while, when I tried to lift myself up, I saw that my leg had cut off. I lifted my thigh and saw it was hanging with the jeans, blood flowing profusely.  Bones of the other leg were all broken and had come out.  All night I kept shouting in pain on the tracks, crying for help. Nobody came to rescue me. I shouted so much that I could no longer see.  When a train used to pass the track would vibrate. You must have seen small rats on the railway tracks; they were now chewing my injured leg. My brain consciousness was working –I was fully aware, but there was no movement in my body.  Every second I was thinking how I could save myself.

The whole night passed, in the morning some villagers took me to Bareilly District Hospital. This is where it happened. When villagers took me to the hospital, the pharmacist, doctors and everyone was all discussing among themselves – that they didn’t have anaesthesia or blood – and if they wanted to start my treatment how could they start.

Though I couldn’t see, I could hear all of this. From where I got the strength, even I don’t know, I said: “Sir, my whole leg is crushed, and for so long I was on the tracks and I endured the pain, but for my good, you will now cut off my leg.”  Maybe you won’t believe this that a doctor or pharmacist donated their own blood to save a patient. The doctor and pharmacist both gave a unit of blood each and amputated my leg without any anaesthesia.  Even today, I feel that pain.

When the media found out, people got to know that Arunima is a national player. I was then admitted to KGMC – King George Medical College in Lucknow and from Lucknow to AIIMS Trauma Centre in Delhi, on Sports Minister’s intervention.  Everything was going fine; because of being a player I started getting good treatment.  For about four months I was being treated at AIIMS.

As I started getting better after 25 days, I looked at the newspapers, all twisted stories – “Arunima didn’t have a train ticket and jumped off a train.” “She was rejected by her family.” And even, “Arunima attempted suicide.”  For a girl whose limb had been amputated, future is unknown – if she will be on a wheelchair or crutches, to the extent that my spine had three fractures, I didn’t even know if I would ever get off the bed. You can only imagine what must be going through my heart and mind. You can imagine the situation of the family whose young girl is going through such a situation.

They say – “Where there is will, there is a way.”

From my heart, mind and soul, I made a decision. On the hospital bed I decided, not volleyball but life’s most difficult game – I then chose mountaineering.  I wanted to try for an Everest.

When I shared with people that I wanted to pursue mountaineering, everyone asked me “Had I gone mad? You can never do mountaineering. Your one leg is artificial and the other has a rod. Have you lost your mind? Your spine also has a fracture. You’re mad, forget this and take up some job and spend your life.”

The biggest problem with people is that they just look at your physical self.  They looked at my legs, but what was going on with my conscious that no one knew. I feel that the biggest motivator is you yourself. The day your inner self is awakened toward any goal, nobody can stop you from reaching that goal.

My family was my backbone. My brother suggested that we should meet Madam Bachendri Pal, who summited Mount Everest in 1984, she would surely help.  After being discharged from the hospital, my right leg had stitches, but instead of directly going home I went to meet Bachendri Pal. When she first saw me, she started crying and said, Arunima, in this state you even thought about such a difficult challenge like Everest – that means you have already conquered it in your heart”. Apart from my family, she was the only woman who had faith in me.

Planning was all done. I had met my mentor. Everything got done, but when you get on to the field then you find out where you really stand.

It took people two minutes to reach base camp from road head, but it used to take me three hours because my right leg’s bones were not yet healed and my left leg was prosthetic.  If I used to place my leg forcefully, it would start bleeding.

Everyone on the expedition was normal. All of them used to say to me, before every climb, that, Arunima you take your time and come slowly.” The only thing running in my head used to be – “What is this!!! I’ve planned for Everest, and I can’t even keep pace with any of them.” I made a vow with myself – there will be one day that I will reach before them. Maybe you won’t believe this, in the next eight months, with all the weight on my shoulders, we used to leave base camp together and reach the top first.

After that, I got full sponsorship. When I went for Everest, I met the Sherpa. When he found out that I had a prosthetic leg and the other has a rod, he refused to take me fearing the risk to his own life. We somehow convinced him.

As soon as I reached the green and blue ice, my artificial leg started slipping over the ice. My leg would turn. Sherpa told me “it is not possible Arunima, don’t do in forcefully.” I said “No way!! This is my leg and I know how it will work.” Finally, after several tries, holes would form and ice would start breaking. I would slowly go ahead placing my foot in the holes.

It was all fine up till Camp 3. When it comes to going further up from Camp 3 to South Col Summit- for even the best of mountaineers and brave hearts, their determination completely dwindles when they see someone die right in front of their eyes.

When I reached the Hillary step close to the south summit, my Sherpa gave me a huge shock, “Arunima, turn back, your oxygen is running out.”  Imagine being so close to your target, and someone tells you to turn back, how would that feel. I said “What are you saying! I won’t go back.” He said that you still have rest of your life, try again, you will eventually summit Everest.  I said no. you don’t get a golden chance like this again and again. It depends on you if you take these chances or let it go. I never wanted to let go of my golden chance.

I first tried to convince the Sherpa. Finally, when he did not budge, I took a step forward.  I took the decision that I will go forward without fail. We went ahead. In about one and a half hours, I was at the top.

I wanted to shout and tell all those people that- “You can do everything; it’s all how you think!”

On April 11, 2011, I had an accident. On May 21, 2013, at 10:55 I was at the top of the world.

I feel that if anybody wants to reach their target, until from the mind the madness comes, it won’t happen.

“Everything is within us, we can do whatever we wish for” – Arunima Sinha

We salute her spirit!

#WomenOfCourage

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