‘I did it for the sake of my mother’
SRINAGAR: On January 23, when results of the Class 12 Board exams were declared, 18-year-old Sahil Sameer received a call from his cousin. It was good news: Sahil Sameer had passed the exams with first division. Immediately, Sahil checked the website of the JK Board of School Education. He had secured 330 marks out of the maximum 500.
For Sahil, the results came both as shock and relief. “It was a relief because I had not prepared for the exams. Only for 10 days before the exam had I been able to study. In that sense it was a relief. But I had promised my teacher to top the exams. I had expected to top the exams, before my right eye was blinded by pellets,” Sahil said.
On September 16, Sahil was fired at with pellets in Srinagar’s Barzulla area, where he lives. He said he was fired upon three hours after street protests in the area had ended. The pellets pierced his right eye. With the rest of the year spent in treatment, Sahil was left with very little time to prepare for the Board exams.
Recalling the terrible day, Sahil said he had stepped out of home to look for his 12-year-old brother, who had gone out to buy bread. “I went out when the street protests had waned. Just when I reached the rear end of the alley, a trooper fired pellets at me. I fell unconscious,” Sahil told Reader. He called it a targeted attack. “I had participated in a protest a few days earlier. So I think I was targeted,” he said.
After being hit by pellets, he was taken to SMHS hospital where he was operated upon. “There was no improvement in my eyesight even after undergoing a surgery at SMHS. My family decided to take me to Amritsar for treatment,” Sahil said.
But even after two surgeries at Amritsar, his right eye remained blind. “It cost us one lakh rupees, and there was no improvement in my eyesight,” Sahil said. His lower-middle class family could not afford further treatment. Nevertheless, Sahil wrote the exams with one eye. “I was depressed but I decided to write the exams for the sake of my mother,” he said.
Talking about his mother, Sahil said that she was yet to come to terms with his blindness. “She cannot believe that I have gone blind in one eye. There is not a single day when she does not cry over it,” he said.
With prospects of regaining vision bleak, Sahil’s dream of becoming a psychologist has crashed. “I had always wanted to treat people who had mental illnesses. But now I feel it is me who needs treatment for depression,” Sahil said.
Four months after losing his eye to pellets, Sahil is yet to find peaceful sleep. “I have nightmares. Sometimes I have this beautiful dream that I have recovered my eyesight. But when I wake up, I realise that this is a nightmare I will have to live with forever. I am blind forever,” Sahil said with teary eyes.