Astep Above The Rest on Ever­est

Arunima Sinha con­quers the world, scales the tallest moun­tain on an ar­ti­fi­cial leg

India Today - - PERSONALITY - By Asit Jolly

Her tri­umph over Mount Ever­est on the morn­ing of May 21 is a re­sound­ing demon­stra­tion that what you re­ally need to con­quer the world’s tallest moun­tain is a heart that wills you to take a crack at the im­pos­si­ble. Twenty- five- year- old Arunima ‘ Sonu’ Sinha is quite lit­er­ally on top of the world.

On April 11, 2011, the spir­ited young­ster, a national vol­ley­ball player, sin­gle­hand­edly took on a bunch of chain- snatch­ers on a train to Greater Noida ( Gau­tam Buddh Na­gar). Fright­ened fel­low pas­sen­gers looked on with hor­ror as the mur­der­ous goons pushed Arunima out of the speed­ing lo­co­mo­tive straight onto the path of an on­com­ing train. “I re­sisted but they pushed me out of the train. I could not move. I re­mem­ber see­ing an­other train com­ing to­wards me. I tried get­ting up. By then, the train had run over my leg. I don’t re­mem­ber any­thing af­ter that,” she told doc­tors on re­gain­ing con­scious­ness at Delhi’s All In­dia In­sti­tute of Med­i­cal Sciences ( AIIMS).

Two years on, the sun shin­ing down on her atop the snowy sum­mit, Arunima’s tri­umph was truly un­matched. She has mag­i­cally trans­formed the pros­thetic limb, fit­ted to re­place her am­pu­tated right leg, into a liv­ing, pul­sat­ing ex­ten­sion of her body. The painful mem­ory of what was done to her, just could not keep up with her de­ter­mi­na­tion to reach for the sky. And Ever­est seemed like the per­fect place to do that. “For four months when I was un­der­go­ing treat­ment at AIIMS, I could not do any­thing on my own. But then one day I de­cided to climb the Ever­est,” Arunima says.

All the pieces of the puz­zle fell into place the minute she made up her mind to go out there and climb the moun­tain. Her older brother, then with the Cen­tral Re­serve Po­lice Force ( CRPF), knew she could do it. In all their years of grow­ing up to­gether in a Faiz­abad vil­lage, Om Prakash Sinha had never known his kid sis­ter to back down from a chal­lenge she set for her­self.

But not ev­ery­one was as con­fi­dent. Even Bachen­dri Pal, the first In­dian woman to climb Ever­est in May 1984, was doubt­ful: “A year and a half ago, Arunima called me and ex­pressed her de­sire to climb Ever­est. I could not be­lieve that she wanted to do it on one leg,” she says.

But Pal, who cur­rently heads the Tata Steel Ad­ven­ture Foun­da­tion’s ( TSAF) moun­taineer­ing pro­gramme, could not help but mar­vel at the bruised and bat­tered for­mer vol­ley­ball player’s spirit. She men­tored Arunima at TSAF’s Ut­tarkashi ( Garhwal) Cen­ter for over 18 months dur­ing which the will­ing pupil first tested her moun­tain- climb­ing skills in a pun­ish­ing as­cent to the top of the 6,622me­tre Mount Chamser Kan­gri in Ladakh in 2012.

At ex­actly 10: 55 a. m. on May 21, Arunima, one of the most pre­cious mem­bers of Tata Group’s ‘ Eco Ever­est Ex­pe­di­tion’, fol­lowed Su­san Mahto, a moun­taineer from Jhark­hand and her con­stant com­pan­ion on the snowy Hi­malayan slopes, to the sum­mit, dwarf­ing ev­ery­one who had tried to bring her down.

Arunima Sinha found her real in­spi­ra­tion to fight im­pos­si­ble ad­ver­sity in crick­eter Yu­vraj Singh. The two share a very spe­cial bond: “Yu­vraj sent me a cheque of Rs 1 lakh and was in touch with me when I was re­cov­er­ing. I got to know later that he was di­ag­nosed with can­cer. When I saw him back in the In­dian team, I was in­spired and said to my­self that if he can get back to the team, I could also do some­thing with my life,” she says.

So what’s next for the young woman who dared to dream of stand­ing taller than Mount Ever­est on an ar­ti­fi­cial limb? Prob­a­bly, con­quer­ing the plan­ets.

MANEESH AG­NI­HOTRI/ www. in­di­a­to­day­im­ages. com


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