Nobody came for our help; this tragic accident has broken us financially and mentally, says father of Sahil
Sopore: A powerful, mysterious blast which occurred near the Pazalpora army camp of a 22RR unit in March this year ripped not only through a little schoolboy’s limbs but also through his future, making him permanently disabled and dependent for care for the rest of his life.
Four minor boys were injured in that explosion in Pazalpora area of Sopore when they found a mysterious substance near the army camp. One of them picked it up and tossed it to the ground, triggering a huge explosion that injured them all. The most gravely hurt was Sahil Rashid Lone, 14, son of Abdul Rashid Lone, who required two operations at the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences in Srinagar that caused his left arm to be amputated and removed a portion of his intestines, perforated by shrapnel. Some metal splinters are still stuck in his body.
The last time this correspondent saw Sahil was in March when he was in no condition to talk. Today he did, overriding his stammer; his words were tragic and tough. He wears a pheran all the time even on hot summer days. When asked why, he said he hates wearing his new clothes now: “They don’t look good on me anymore. I hate it more when I see the cloth of my left sleeve dangling. That’s why I wear the pheran, it covers my body well. If I am wearing a pheran, people can’t see that I do not have my left arm.”
Before the blast, Sahil had just passed his VIIIth standard examination and was looking forward to joining the local high school. But his view of returning to school has now changed drastically – he says he will join only after he becomes normal again. He doesn’t yet know that becoming ‘normal’ is almost impossible for him. He spends almost all his time in his home, going out only once a fortnight when he has to visit a doctor in Srinagar.
He used to play cricket all day with his friends, but now says he perforce prefers to stay indoors.
“I used to play cricket with my friends thrice a day, Shakib-ul-Hassan, an all-rounder of the Bangladesh cricket team, is my favourite player. I used to like him, but now I cannot hold a bat, forget about playing again, I miss my old days, I just want to be alright, so that I can live the old life again.”.
The fragile teen is spoon-fed by his elder sister as he now never takes a meal on his own. The cutting off of a portion of his intestines after the explosion never lets him eat the way he used to. He has greatly weakened over the months but says he never feels like eating, recounts Sahil’s elder sister, wiping her tears.
Abdul Rashid, Sahil’s father, a farmer by profession, would do anything to restore his son to health and vitality but cannot do much because of his poor financial condition.
“I cannot forget that day; it was a Sunday morning when I took Sahil along to the field close to the army camp to set our cattle loose for grazing. On our return, Sahil met his friends and went with them to play cricket.
“I had barely reached my home when there was a deafening sound of a blast. I heard people crying that my son had been killed in an explosion.
“Nobody from the government or any agency came to our help. This tragic accident broke us financially as well as mentally. We are poor and have been the worst sufferers.”
Rashid feeds a family of six, including Sahil’s three siblings. He showed this correspondent a file in which he keeps the permanent disability certificate Sahil has been provided but which he has always failed to explain to his son. “When he asks what is this certificate which has my photograph attached, I don’t know how to explain that the certificate is about his disability. I don’t know how to say to him you have now plunged into the world of disabled youngsters,” Rashid said.
He goes on to say, “We have got the certificate for him so that it will at least help him in future if we are not there.”
While the father recounted the tragic situation, Sahil asked his mother how many days were left for Eid. When this correspondent asked if the prospect of Eid excited him, he replied, “I don’t know whether I should be excited or not because I can’t do the things on Eid which I used to.”
“We are taking Sahil to Bemina hospital after Eid where they will carry out a check-up on him and examine whether they will be able to make him alright by installing an artificial arm. I know it will cost me a lot but if I have to sell everything I own, I will do it. I cannot leave my son to spend his life like this,” Rashid concluded, turning everything over to Allah’s wish.