[Fighting against odds]
I was on my way to Mumbai from Bhubaneswar. Being a corporate customer of both Air India and Indigo, there are some advantages to it such as booking of a specific seat in the flight, no cancellation charge in case of change of travel schedule, etc. In case of Indigo, my preferred seat happened to be 1C or 1D. On that day also, I was assigned seat no. 1C. I boarded the plane just 15 minutes before the departure of flight. I found that a young man had occupied the seat meant for me. As I was about to talk to him, an air-hostess requested me to occupy the window seat (1A). Without wasting time, I sat on the seat and could feel that something was not right with the young man. Incidentally, seat no. 1B remained vacant.
After a few minutes, as the plane was about to take off, I was looking outside through the window. Suddenly, I got a request from the young man, “Sir, can you please place your palm tightly on my chest”. Without asking him anything further, I pushed him backward with my palm on his chest. I became curious to know what was wrong with the young man. As the switch belt sign went off, I thought it to be in order to start talking to him (over time, I have developed this habit of talking to fellow passengers always). With such an intention, I introduced myself and then wanted to know about him. He told me, “My name is Sudarshan Bhoi (name changed). I hail from a village near Berhampur. I stay in Pune. I came to Odisha to meet my family members comprising my parents, two sisters and one younger brother. Now, I am going back to Pune.” Telling this he stopped for a while as the serving of snacks and beverages was started by the air-hostesses.
After sometime, I started talking to him again and wanted to know what was the exact problem he is suffering from. He then started narrating the incident. He told, “Sir, I joined the Aviation Branch of Indian Navy almost six years back and was posted in Kerala. It happened to be an excellent time in my life. I was thoroughly enjoying my assignment in a group consisting of fifty trainees. We were getting mostly on-duty training at various locations. Training period of two years was fast drawing to an end. We were in Cochin for our last phase of training. But as the luck would have it, my life became topsy-turvy all of a sudden. On that fateful day, my strong desire to serve the country had crashed and I became a physically handicapped person.” Saying this, his eyes became moist and his throat got choked. I started feeling very embarrassed and to save the situation, I tried to console him.
After a few minutes, when he was able to bring himself together, I asked him what happened to him during the last lap of training. He told, “After reaching the training centre, I went to take bath in the swimming pool. Though not an expert, I was conversant with the art of swimming. While staying in the village, I along with my friends used to dive into the pond from a height. Finding a stand thereat, I also got tempted to dive into the swimming pool and did so. I could not remember what happened thereafter.”
“When I got back to my senses, my friends told me that I was lying unconscious in the swimming pool. Before diving into the pool, I did not notice that the water level was very shallow. As a result, I got hit on the head which in turn had damaged my spinal cord. After a long treatment, the doctors told me that lower portion (from waist downward) of my body was paralysed and I had to undergo treatment (mostly Physiotherapy) at Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre, Kirkee, Pune. Since then, I have been staying thereat.” When I asked him if there was any improvement in condition, his reply was “very little”.
You may think what is so special about writing a common happening – accident happens and it was also an accident. Yes, I do agree but the following two unique things prompted me to write about that bright but hapless young man:
- The undaunted spirit and strong will power of Sudarshan fighting the odds.
- The way the Ministry of Defence, Govt. of India is taking care of such hapless employees not only by providing free boarding and lodging, free treatment and free counselling but also by paying lifelong pension to him by which his family has been surviving.
Since then we are connected with each other and exchange good wishes on all important days / festivals. I always pray to God for his complete recovery. I request all of you to pray for him as well to help him lead a regular life at the earliest.