From cricketing to swimming across Jhelum, this armless south Kashmir youth can do anything independently

ANANTNAG: Amir Ahmad Lone, 21, a resident of Waghama village, Bijbehara, lost both his arms in an accident in childhood. But the loss did not deter him from carrying on his studies and fulfilling his childhood dream—becoming a cricketer.
When Amir was nine years of age, his arms got stuck in moving wheel of his father’s saw mill. He was taken to the Bones and Joints Hospital Srinagar, where he remained hospitalised for three years.
His family sold almost everything on his treatment, but his arms could not be saved.
“After being discharged from the hospital, I stayed at home for almost a year, hopeless and helpless. But my grandmother encouraged me to go to school,” Amir told Kashmir Reader.
The first day of day wasn’t, however, every encouraging for him. A female teacher told him that the school was not meant for children like him.
“After the teacher humiliated me, I rushed back to home and narrated the story to my grandmother, but she encouraged me once again, and accompanied me to the school the next day,” Amir recollected.
The grandmother, he said, always taught him to ignore the taunts from teachers and classmates.
“Following her advice, I kept going to the school and listen to the lectures with full attention.”
A year later, Amir thought of learning to write with his feet. But it took him several months to arrange a pen and a cardboard sheet for practice, as his father had sold everything on his treatment.
“I had no pen or paper to practice writing. One day, I approached a man who was collecting walnuts and requested him to give me ten nuts, but he gave me just three. I then requested him to give me a stick, and he did. I lifted it with my toes and threw it towards the walnut tree. Ten walnuts fell down at a time,” Amir said.
Unlike most other children who would buy chocolates or biscuits from the walnuts, Amir bought himself a pen. He then arranged a sheet of cardboard and started practicing writing with his right foot.
“In few months I learned writing with my feet,” he said.
The struggle became tougher in the years that followed, as Amir had to travel to other villages for secondary school.
“Till the completion of elementary education, it was not very difficult because the school was located at a little distance from my home. But I had to face many difficulties after taking admission in a high school in village Marhama,” Amir said.
“One day, when I was returning home after school, the button of my pants was suddenly torn. Unable to help myself, I had to wait for someone to come and help me wear my pants. After a couple of hours, two people passed by, but they refused to help me.”
Helpless Amir hid himself behind a tree and walked home only after it was dark.
“The pedestrians’ refusal to help me hurt me badly, but that painful experience made me to learn how to wear clothes,” he said. “Alhamdulillah, I am no more dependent on anyone for wearing my clothes.”
Braving difficulties, Amir finally managed to pass class 12 with 48 per cent marks in 2013.
“In 10th and 12th class exams, I did not seek help of any scribe for writing my paper. I wrote with my foot, and passed both the exams, though not with an expected percentage,” Amir said.
While pursuing his studies, Amir did not lose his passion for cricket. He continued to play the sport with normal children, at home and at school.
His way of holding the bat between his neck and shoulder and the ball with his toes surprises everyone. His talent and passion has found him a place in the state’s disabled cricket team. He was the team’s captain. Under him, the team drew a national-level series equal in Lucknow, he said.
Amir can swim in streams and rivers—something even the normal people fear doing.
“I wanted to bath and swim in streams since childhood, but the fear of drowning always stopped me. But one day, seeing a duck swimming across the stream, I too jumped into the water and started swimming by pushing the water behind with my legs; I ended up crossing the stream,” Amir said.
The continuous practice of swimming in a local stream, Amir said, made him so perfect and confident that he even swam across the river Jhelum several times.
Amir has a message for the society and the authorities: “Don’t treat the people with disabilities as burden and useless. They are specially-abled, and can do much better than normal ones.”